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Great Mistakes 


of the War 



Books by Hanson W. Baldwin 


MEN AND SHIPS OF STEEL 
(With Wayne Francis Palmer) 

THE CAISSONS ROLL 
WE SAW IT HAPPEN 
Edited, with Shephard Stone 

ADMIRAL DEATH 
UNITED WE STAND 

WHAT THE CITIZEN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE NAVY 
STRATEGY FOR VICTORY 
THE NAVY AT WAR 
THE PRICE OF POWER 
GREAT MISTAKES OF THE WAR 



GREAT MISTAKES 
OF THE WAR 


BY 

Hanson W. Baldwin 



ALVIN REDMAN 

LONDON 



GREAT MISTAKES OF THE WAR 

Copyright , 1949 , 1950 , by Hanson W. Baldwin . 
All rights in this book are received. 


First published in Gt. Britain by 
M.VIN REDMAN LIMITED 

4\f$/zROY STREET, LONDON, W.I 

1950 


Printed in Great Britain by 
Barnard & Westwood, Ltd. 
4 FITZROY STREET, LONDON, W.I 



CONTENTS 


I. The Basic Fallacy i 

II. Germany and Russia — The Struggle in 

Europe 14 

/. Unconditional Surrender 14 

2 . Loss of Eastern Europe 25 

3. Loss of Central Europe 45 

III. Japan and Russia — The Struggle in fHE 

Pacific 58 

1 . Mac Arthur and the Philippines — 

Origins of Service Jealousies 62 

2. Appeasement in Asia 77 

3. The Atomic Bomb — The Penalty of 

Expediency 88 

Notes and Bibliography 109 




i. The Basic Fallacy 


in February, 1 945, at Yalta, and on June 6, 1944, the 
date of the Allied invasion of Normandy, it might be 
said that we lost the peace. 

American political and strategic mistakes during 
the war possibly lengthened it, certainly made it more 
difficult, and are largely responsible for the difficulties 
and crises through which we have been passing since 
the war. 

The United States has fought wars differently from 
other peoples. We have fought for the immediate vic- 
tory, not for the ultimate peace. Unlike the British or 
the Russians, we have had no grand design, no over-all 
concept. This lack of a well-defined political objec- 
tive to chart our military action has distinguished, to 
greater or lesser degree, much of our past history. 
During World War II our political mistakes cost us 
the peace. The British and the Russians thought and 


1 



2 Great Mistakes of the War 

fought in terms of the big picture, the world after the 
war; we thought and fought in terms of what we could 
do to lick Germany and Japan now. 

This book is an attempt to illuminate some of these 
mistakes. 

It is, erf course, easy to be wise in retrospect and to 
look back with the benefit of hindsight at the greatest 
war in history and to point to errors and confusion. 
They were inevitable, for war is conducted by men and 
men are fallible. An historian’s judgments, moreover, are 
something like those of a Monday morning global 
quarterback. Yet if we are ever to learn from our 
mistakes we must identify them. 

The major American wartime errors were all part 
and parcel of our political immaturity. We fought to 
win — period. We did not remember that wars are 
merely an extension of politics by other means; that 
wars have objectives; that wars without objectives 
represent particularly senseless slaughters; that unless 
a nation is to engage in an unlimited holocaust those 
objectives must be attainable by the available strength, 
limited by the victor’s capacity to enforce them and 
the willingness of the vanquished state to accept them; 
and that the general objective of war is a more stable 
peace. We forgot that the “unity of outlook between 
allies in war never extends to the subsequent discus- 
sion of peace terms.” We forgot that “while the 
attainment of military objectives brings victory in 



The Basic Fallacy 3 

war, it is the attainment of political objectives which 
wins the subsequent peace.” 1 * The United States, in 
other words, had no peace aims; we had only the 
vaguest kind of idea, expressed in the vaguest kind of 
general principles (the Atlantic Charter, the United 
Nations) of the kind of postwar world we wanted. 

Our judgments were emotionally clouded by the 
perennial American hope for the millenium, the Rus- 
sian military accomplishments, the warm sense of 
comradeship with our Allies which the common pur- 
pose of victory induced, and by the very single- 
mindedness of our military-industrial effort. Wartime 
propaganda added to illusion; all our enemies were 
knaves, all our Allies friends and comrades — military 
victory our only purpose. We were, in other words, 
idealists but not pragmatists. We embarked upon Total 
War with all the zeal and energy and courage for 
which Americans are famous, but we fought to win; 
in the broader sense of an objective, we did not know 
what we were fighting for. 

The political mistakes we made, therefore, sprang 
from the receptive soil of this immaturity; but they 
were fertilized, too, by a lack of knowledge or a lack 
of adequate interpretation of that knowledge. This 
was particularly true of our wartime relationship with 
Russia. Our policy was founded basically on four 
great — and false — premises, certainly false in retrospect 

* Reference numbers refer to the Notes and Bibliography at the 
end of the book. 



4 Great Mistakes of the War 

and seen by some to be false at the time. These were : 

i. That the Politbureau had abandoned (with the 
ostensible end of the Communist International) its 
policy of a world Communist revolution and was 
honestly interested in the maintenance of friendly 
relations with capitalist governments. 

2. That “Joe” Stalin was a “good fellow” and that 
we could “get along with him.” This was primarily 
a personal Rooseveltian policy and was based in 
part upon the judgments formed by Roosevelt as a 
result of his direct and indirect contacts with Stalin 
during the war. This belief was shaken in the last 
months of Roosevelt’s life, partly by the Soviet stand 
on Poland. 

3. That Russia might make a separate peace with 
Germany. Fear of this dominated the waking 
thoughts of our politico-strategists throughout all 
the early phases of the war, and some anticipated 
such an eventuality even after our landing in Nor- 
mandy. 

4. That Russian entry into the war against Japan 
was either : (a) essential to victory, or ( b ) necessary 
to save thousands of American lives. Some of our 
military men clung to this concept even after the 
capture of the Marianas and Okinawa. 

All of these basic misconceptions, except the second, 
had one common denominator : lack of adequate 
knowledge about Russian strengths, purposes, and 
motivations; and inadequate evaluation and interpre- 



The Basic Fallacy 5 

tation of the knowledge we did possess, or failure to 
accept and apply it. 

The second mistake could not have been avoided 
by any amount of knowledge or by the best possible 
interpretation. The Presidential office, with its vast 
powers, can, under an executive who is so inclined, 
formulate a personal foreign policy. This is particu- 
larly true in wartime. President Roosevelt liked to 
transact business — even international business — on a 
man-to-man basis; he depended heavily upon per- 
sonal emissaries like Harry Hopkins, and upon his 
own judgment, and was confident that his estimate of 
the other fellow was correct. “I just have a hunch,” 
William C. Bullitt quotes Roosevelt as telling him, 
“that Stalin . . . doesn’t want anything but security 
for his country, and I think that if I give him every- 
thing I possibly can and ask nothing from him in 
return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex any- 
thing and will work with me for a world of democracy 
and peace.” 2 

Had the President been able to lean upon a younger 
and more vigorous Secretary of State and a stronger 
State Department he might have depended less upon 
intuition and snap judgment and more upon careful 
research and group study. But it was in the character 
of the man to administer and to govern and to bargain 
on a “first-name” basis; he relied heavily upon his 
great persuasive powers and charm, as well as upon his 
political ego. 



6 Great Mistakes of the War 

A graphic instance of this tendency toward snap 
decisions and casual dependence upon Stalin’s good 
intentions was provided at Teheran. At that confer- 
ence, in late 1943, Roosevelt, in one of his tete-&-tetes 
with Stalin and Churchill, casually agreed, unknown 
to virtually all of his advisers, that the Russians ought 
to have one-third of the surrendered Italian fleet. This 
agreement was put in the form of an oral promise, and 
Stalin was not one to forget promises. 

Our Navy and the British Navy, who were then 
trying to utilize the surrendered Italian ships — manned 
by their own crews — to best advantage in Mediter- 
ranean convoy and anti-submarine work, knew nothing 
of this agreement until Russian representatives in 
Washington asked early in 1944 when they could 
expect “their share of the Italian Fleet.” Navy, State 
Department, and Joint Chiefs of Staff were dumb- 
founded; all our efforts had been directed toward 
enlisting Italian support in the war against Germany; 
assignment of one-third of the Italian fleet to the 
Russians as spoils of war would have been a political 
bombshell which would have handicapped the war 
effort in the Mediterranean. Accordingly, and to re- 
pair the damages of a casual promise made cavalierly 
without benefit of advice, the Russians were persuaded 
to accept, in lieu of the Italian vessels, some American 
and British men-of-war. 

This is but one example of Roosevelt’s personalized 
foreign policy — a foreign policy marked more, per- 



The Basic Fallacy 7 

haps, by idealism and altruism than by realism. This 
Rooseveltian tendency toward international altruism, 
too often unmoderated by practical politics, seems a 
strange manifestation in one who domestically was a 
pragmatic and, consummate politician. But it must be 
remembered that the vision of a “brave new world” 
was strong in Roosevelt’s mind, and his optimistic 
nature and the great inner well-spring of his faith in 
man sometimes affected his judgment. 

As William L. Langer notes, Roosevelt regarded 
Russia as the lesser of two evils, and he “shared an 
idea common at the time that the cult of world revolu- 
tion was already receding in the minds of the Soviet 
leaders and they were becoming more and more en- 
grossed in purely national problems.” 3 As a result he 
turned away from the only practical policy that 
should have governed our actions — opposition to all 
dictatorships and reliance upon the time-tested balance- 
of-power policy — to the chimera of so many Ameri- 
cans : a brave new world. 

The Presidential ego unavoidably became stronger 
in Roosevelt’s closing years. His great wartime power, 
the record of victory, the high esteem in which he 
was held by the world, and the weakness of the State 
Department all combined to reinforce the President’s 
tendency to depend upon himself. Had the nation 
then had a National Security Council, or oganization 
for reconciling and presenting military-political views, 
had it had a strong, well integrated State Department, 



8 Great Mistakes of the War 

this personalized foreign policy might have been tem- 
pered by riper judgments and more carefully thought 
out decisions. 

One of our greatest weaknesses in the policy field 
during the war was the failure to equate, evaluate, 
and integrate military and political policy; there was 
then no adequate government mechanism, save in the 
person of the President himself, for such integration. 

Former Secretary of War Stimson points out in his 
book that the formal organization of the Joint Chiefs 
of Staff had “a most salutary effect [in the military 
field] on the President’s weakness for snap decisions; 
it thus offset a characteristic which might otherwise 
have been a serious handicap to his basically sound 
strategic instincts.” 4 But there was no political coun- 
terpart of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and even if there 
had been, it is difficult to conceive that such an organ- 
ization could have tempered materially the personal 
views which Roosevelt formed about Stalin and 
Russia. 

The other fallacious premises upon which our war- 
time Russian policy was based, however, could have 
been avoided. We became victims of our own propa- 
ganda: Russian aims were good and noble, Com- 
munism had changed its stripes. A study of Marxian 
literature and of the speeches and writings of its high 
apostles, Lenin and Stalin, coupled with the expert 
knowledge of numerous American specialists, should 



The Basic Fallacy 9 

have convinced an unbiased mind that international 
Communism had not altered its ultimate aim; the wolf 
had merely donned a sheep’s skin. Had we recognized 
this — and all past experience indicates we should have 
recognized it — our wartime alliance with Russia 
would have been understood for what it clearly was : 
a temporary marriage of expediency. In the same man- 
ner, a careful study of strategical facts and available 
military information should have indicated clearly the 
impossibility, from the Russian point of view , of a 
separate peace with Germany. Such a peace could only 
have been bought in the opening years of the war by 
major territorial concessions on Russia’s part, conces- 
sions which might well have imperilled the Stalin 
regime, and which, in any case, would have left the 
Russo-German conflict in the category of “unfinished 
business.” In the closing years of the war, when 
Russia had everything to gain and nothing to lose by 
continuing the struggle to complete victory, a separate 
peace would have been politically ludicrous. 

There is no doubt whatsoever that it would have 
been to the interest of Britain, the United States, and 
the world to have allowed — and indeed, to have en- 
couraged — the world’s two great dictatorships to fight 
each other to a frazzle. Such a struggle, with its result- 
ant weakening of both Communism and Nazism could 
not but have aided in the establishment of a more 
stable peace; it would have placed the democracies in 
supreme power in the world, instead of elevating one 



io Great Mistakes of the War 

totalitarianism at the expense of another and of the 
democracies . The great opportunity of the democra- 
cies for establishing a stable peace came on June 22, 
1941, when Germany invaded Russia, but we muffed 
the chance. Instead of aiding Russia with supplies and 
munitions — but not too much, instead of bombing and 
blockading Germany — but not too much, Britain, 
joined after Pearl Harbour by the United States, went 
all out for “unconditional surrender.” We should, in 
other words, have occupied the bargaining position 
during the war, vis-a-vis Russia. Russia was the invaded 
power; Russia, fighting a desperate battle on her own 
soil, was in a death grapple with Germany. We were 
not similarly threatened. Russia had to have our help; 
we did not, to the same extent, require hers. This mis- 
judgment put us in the role — at times a disgraceful 
role — of fearful suppliant and propitiating ally, anxious 
at nearly any cost to keep Russia fighting. As 
William C. Bullitt put it, “this topsy-turvy world 
turned upside down, Alice Through the Looking 
Glass attitude toward the Soviet Union, which our 
government adopted in the latter part of 1941, was 
our first step down the road to our present danger.” 6 

In retrospect, how stupid ! A man being strangled to 
death struggles with all that’s in him; Russia could not 
quit. 

In the same manner, and for much the same reasons, 
we reversed the policy we should have followed in the 
Pacific war. Instead of recognizing that Russia, at 



The Basic Fallacy 1 1 

nearly all costs, would have to participate in that war, 
if she was to serve her own interests, we “bribed” 
her to enter it. Port Arthur is written upon the Rus- 
sian heart; Manchuria has been the locale of Russian 
expansionist ambitions for nearly a century. Russia had 
everything to gain and nothing to lose by entering 
the Pacific war, particularly in 1944 and 1945 when 
the power of Germany was broken and Japan was 
beleaguered and in a strategically hopeless position. 
Yet again we begged and induced, though we, not 
Russia, occupied the commanding position. We should 
have tried to keep Russia out of the war against Japan 
instead of buying her entry. 

Edgar Ansel Mowrer, in The Nightmare of Ameri- 
can Foreign Policy, succinctly summarizes the basic 
error of our wartime policies : “In winning the war, 
F. D. R. left nothing to chance. In planning for peace, 
he bet the future of the American people on one card : 
that the Soviet Union would prefer peace and col- 
laboration with the West to armed and ideological 
expansion. He was warned of the risk. He acknow- 
ledged the risk. He deliberately took the risk. And he 
lost.” 

But the great wartime President shares this responsi- 
bility of history with many others. He had many 
advisers. Most of them, political and military, “bet” 
on the same “card.” 

Such were the mistakes of basic policy and principle 
— most of them stemming from a political immaturity 

B 



12 Great Mistakes of the War 

and an international naivete — which influenced most 
of our wartime decisions and dominated the nature of 
the peace. They form the psychological background 
for many of the mistakes of detail here recounted. But 
a cautionary and qualifying caveat must immediately 
be entered. Some of these itemized errors were purely 
fortuitous, the illegitimate offspring of peculiar per- 
sonalities or specialized circumstance; others were 
powerfully influenced by American humanitarianism 
— a desire to save lives; still others were military mis- 
takes, with political connotations — what Bullitt has 
called “military imagination functioning in political 
ignorance.” But, regardless of their psychological 
origins, they have one thing in common : they were 
mistakes. 

This is no comprehensive catalogue of error, nor are 
we concerned here with tactical mistakes or with 
those military decisions which had no political conse- 
quence. These are a selected few of the broad and far- 
reaching errors which history will supplement, which 
influenced the course of the war or affected the peace. 



II. Germany and Russia— 

The Struggle in Europe 


i. Unconditional Surrender 

this was perhaps the biggest political mistake of the 
war. In the First World War Wilson took care to 
distinguish between the Kaiser and the militaristic 
Junkers class and the German people; in the Second, 
Stalin drew a clear line between Hitler and the Nazis, 
and the German people, and even the German Army. 
The opportunity of driving a wedge between rulers 
and ruled, so clearly seized by Wilson and Stalin, 
was muffed by Roosevelt and Churchill. Uncondi- 
tional surrender was an open invitation to uncondi- 
tional resistance; it discouraged opposition to Hitler, 
probably lengthened the war, cost us lives, and helped 
to lead to the present abortive peace. 

This policy grew in part out of the need for a 

13 



14 Great Mistakes of the War 

psychological war cry; in part it was intended, as 
Langer puts it, as a reassurance to “ the Bolshevik 
leaders that there would be no compromise with Hit- 
ler and that the Allies would fight on to total vic- 
tory.” 6 The haunting fear that motivated so many of 
our actions during the war — the fear of a separate 
Russian peace with Germany — and Russia’s growing 
suspicions of her Western Allies because of their in- 
ability until that time (January, 1943) to open a 
“second front” on land in Western Europe, dictated 
the famous declaration of Casablanca. 

It is noteworthy that Stalin was never associated 
with formulating “unconditional surrender” as a doc- 
trine; he refused the invitation to the Casablanca con- 
ference, and later specifically criticized this doctrine. 
Some historians point to the Four Power declaration 
at Moscow in October, 1943, as an indication of 
Soviet acceptance of the unconditional surrender 
policy. Actually, however, this is an oversimplified 
and inaccurate assessment of the Russian reaction. 
Prior to and after the Casablanca-Moscow conferences, 
Stalin took peculiar care to differentiate between the 
unconditional surrender of Hitlerism, and the uncon- 
ditional surrender of Germany. Obviously the more 
complete the German defeat, the greater the extension 
of Russian power, but Stalin understood well the 
political advantages of strengthening the anti-Hitler 
opposition in Germany. In one pronouncement 
(November 6, 1942) he even promised that a German 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 15 
defeat would not mean the end of “all military force 
in Germany,” and the Soviets took active measures 
through the Free Germany Committee, the Union of 
German Officers, and the high-ranking Germans cap- 
tured at Stalingrad and elsewhere (Field Marshal von 
Paulus, Major General Seydlitz, etc.) to back up words 
with deeds and to build up an active opposition to 
Hitler. 

“This ‘soft line’ was developed in Germany [by 
Russia] all through the Summer and Autumn of 
1943,” Wallace Carroll, who did so much to form our 
psychological warfare policy during the war, com- 
ments. “. . . in November, Stalin challenged the use 
of the hard line’ of unconditional surrender at the 
Teheran Conference.” 7 Even as late as May, 1945, 
when Harry Hopkins was conferring with Stalin in 
Moscow, Stalin balked at unconditional surrender for 
Japan, since, “if we stick to [it] . . . the Japs will not 
give up and we will have to destroy them as we did 
Germany.” 8 

President Roosevelt ignored these challenges to his 
“hard line” at Teheran, in December, 1943, after the 
conference, when he was asked by the British in 
Washington what he was going to do to meet Stalin’s 
objections, and again on later occasions. Despite pres- 
sure from the British, the Russians, and strong and 
repeated demands from Anglo-American military 
leaders for a definition of unconditional surrender 
which would strengthen the opposition to Hitler, 



1 6 Great Mistakes of the War 

hasten the end of the war, and provide a positive — 
instead of a purely negative — war aim, the President 
never retreated from the Casablanca dictate. His sole 
concession (in his Christmas Eve speech of 1943) was 
a pallid reflection, indeed, of the Wilsonian Fourteen 
Points : 

“The United Nations/’ he said, “have no intention 
to enslave the German people. We wish them to have 
a normal chance to develop in peace as useful and 
respectable members of the European family. But we 
most certainly emphasize that word, ‘respectable/ for 
we intend to rid them once and for all of Nazism, and 
Prussian militarism, and the fanatic, disastrous notion 
that they constitute the ‘Master Race.’ ” 

Wallace Carroll defends the doctrine of uncondi- 
tional surrender in arguments somewhat distinguished 
by rationalization. But Mr. Carroll himself urged at 
the time a specific definition of unconditional sur- 
render, and admits that “failure of the Allies to define 
unconditional surrender was giving Goebbels [even 
after the Normandy landing] complete freedom to 
popularize his own version of Allied intentions/’ 9 
Not until December, 1944, with the war almost ended, 
and using Directive 1067 — the directions sent Eisen- 
hower for the military government of Germany — 
were our propagandists able to indicate to the Ger- 
mans the hard terms that faced them. 

As Langer notes, the Casablanca policy, “far from 
scaring the Germans into early surrender . . . gave the 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 17 
Nazi propagandists their best argument for a last-ditch 
resistance. 

“On balance it seems that the demand for uncondi- 
tional surrender was an unfortunate and costly move, 
and that it was too high a price to pay for Stalin’s 
peace of mind.” 10 

To this Captain Harry C. Butcher USNR, lends a 
hearty “Amen.” He criticizes the “hard-boiled atti- 
tude” of the Prime Minister and the President about 
unconditional surrender and points out that any “mili- 
tary person knows there are conditions to every 
surrender.” 

“There is a feeling,” Butcher notes in his diary, My 
Three Years with Eisenhower , under entry of April 
14, 1944, “that at Casablanca, the President and the 
Prime Minister, more likely the former, seized on 
Grant’s famous term without realizing the full impli- 
cations to the enemy. Goebbels has made great capital 
with it to strengthen the morale of the German Army 
and people. . . .” u 

Butcher was correct; the President was the author 
of the famous phrase. Elliott Roosevelt, in his book, 
notes that at luncheon on January 23, in his Casa- 
blanca villa, attended by Harry Hopkins, Churchill, 
Roosevelt, and Elliott, the phrase unconditional sur- 
render was bom : “For what it is worth, it can be 
recorded that it was Father’s phrase, that Harry took 
an immediate and strong liking to it, and that Church- 
ill, while he slowly munched a mouthful of food, 



1 8 Great Mistakes of the War 

thought, frowned, thought, finally grinned, and at 
length announced, ‘Perfect! And I can see just how 
Goebbels and the rest of ’em’ll squeal! 5 ” 12 

This story of the birth of the famous phrase — en- 
dorsed by the President’s son, who was present at 
Casablanca — appears to be an approximate version of 
what actually occurred. Both Roosevelt and Church- 
ill have agreed that Roosevelt fathered the phrase, and 
that it was not mentioned publicly until the press 
conference summarizing the results of the conference. 
However, it was not a casual inspiration as it has been 
made to appear, for subsequent events showed it was 
deeply embedded in Roosevelt’s war philosophy and 
he resisted attempts to modify the doctrine. 

Since the war, Mr. Churchill, in a debate in Parlia- 
ment (July 21, 1949) somewhat disingenuously blamed 
(or credited ?) Roosevelt for the formulation of the 
unconditional surrender policy, and tried, inferen- 
tially, to disassociate himself from it. He stated that at 
Casablanca President Roosevelt broached the subject 
“without consultation with me,” said it was not his 
“idea,” and admitted that the British Cabinet, had 
they been consulted, would have rejected the policy. 
“ The first time I heard that phrase used was from the 
lips of President Roosevelt. ... I was there on the 
spot and I had rapidly to consider whether our con- 
dition in the world would justify me in not giving 
support to him.” 

Mr. Churchill did, however, “give support” to the 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 19 
policy, and still insists that no “great harm” came of 
it; and thus he cannot escape an inferential share of 
the blame for what Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin 
has excoriated as a policy of anarchy. “Unconditional 
surrender,” Mr. Bevin said in the same debate, “left 
us a Germany without a law, without a Constitution, 
and without a single institution to grapple with the 
problems. . . .” 

Mr. Churchill, while damning “unconditional sur- 
render” by a sort of faint praise, admitted in the same 
debate that at the second Quebec conference he had 
initialled the Morgenthau “pastoralization” plan for 
Germany, “about which I do not feel so confident in 
my conscience about the judgment of my actions.” 13 

But on November 17, 1949, in another statement to 
Parliament, Mr. Churchill corrected his own faulty 
memory, and substantiated, in general, the account 
given by Elliott Roosevelt. After consulting the Casa- 
blanca conference records, Britain’s wartime Prime 
Minister declared that the words unconditional sur- 
render had been mentioned, “probably in informal 
talk, I think at meal times” on January 19, 1942. Mr. 
Churchill sent a cable to the British Cabinet informing 
them that he and President Roosevelt intended to issue 
an unconditional surrender demand, but to exclude 
Italy. The Cabinet’s response, Mr. Churchill declared, 
“was not against unconditional surrender.” 

“They only disagreed with it not being applied to 
Italy as well.” 



20 Great Mistakes of the War 

Strangely enough, however, despite this meeting of 
the minds between Churchill and Roosevelt and the 
(at least tacit) approval of the British Cabinet, the 
official communique of the Casablanca conference 
did not mention the phrase unconditional surrender , 
and it remained for President Roosevelt to use at a 
press conference, a phrase that, according to Mr. 
Churchill, had just popped into his mind . 14 

Roosevelt’s debonair use publicly of a phrase that 
had just “popped into his mind” could not possibly 
have been the sudden carelessness such a description 
implies. The evidence is overwhelming that uncondi- 
tional surrender and its implications were discussed 
in private at Casablanca prior to public announce- 
ment; and Roosevelt was the principal architect of 
the phrase and of the policy, which was a carefully 
calculated one. 

Regardless of its origins, there is no doubt that it 
caused grave harm. 

B. H. Liddell Hart, the British military writer, 
found in his postwar interviews with German generals 
that “but for the unconditional surrender policy, both 
they and their troops would have yielded sooner, 
either separately or collectively .” 15 The German 
underground, as noted by Albrecht von Kessel 15 in 
his diary, felt the unconditional surrender formula 
greatly handicapped their efforts. In the negotiations 
leading up to the Italian surrender and collapse, the 
harsh and strident note of unconditional surrender, 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 21 
modified only slightly and then but temporarily, prob- 
ably delayed the inevitable collapse of Italy four to 
six weeks — ample time to permit the reinforcement 
of the Italian front by the Germans, a reinforcement 
which was the direct cause of the bloody stalemate 
that ensued. 

Allen W. Dulles’ book, German fs Underground , 17 
points to the same conclusions. It seems clear that the 
unconditional surrender policy, plus the policy of in- 
discriminate bombing, helped to unify Germany and 
to weaken the anti-Hitler opposition. The doctrine 
of Casablanca was in direct contradiction to the assur- 
ances given by the British Government in public 
speeches and in private conversations in 1939-40 that 
a Germany which had rid itself of Hitler and his 
associates would be an acceptable basis for peace talks. 
Edward C. W. von Selzem, in a letter to The New 
York Times , points out that the “declaration drove 
most of the vacillating generals away from the opposi- 
tion and attached them for better or worse to Hitler, 
thus weakening detrimentally the cause of the opposi- 
tion and strengthening considerably Hitler’s power of 
resistance. In this, I contend, the real tragedy of the 
Casablanca declaration is to be found.” 18 

Siegfried Wagener, who served in psychological 
warfare operations during World War II, in a letter to 
the author (December 28, 1949) writes that “in the 
first half of 1944 SHAEF and the Joint Chiefs were 
approaojied to foster a German revolution as requested 



22 Great Mistakes of the War 

by the then existing German underground/’ Among 
the arguments advanced for support of such a revolu- 
tion, the most important was “getting into the Central 
European power house before the Russians.” 

But unconditional surrender, a somewhat naive 
faith in our ally, and dependence upon military opera- 
tions for military victory, caused the rejection of the 
project, “despite a hectic struggle of several months.” 

The Casablanca conference, with its unconditional 
surrender doctrine, indicated the Presidential predilec- 
tion for intuitive decisions and personalized policies — 
a fault shared to a considerable degree by Churchill, 
whose ideas, however, were more fully tempered by 
a riper wisdom and more seasoned advice. The Casa- 
blanca policy came to logical fruition in the Morgen- 
thau “pastoral Germany” policy at Quebec in Sep- 
tember, 1944. The outlines of this plan — which for- 
tunately quickly was abandoned — “leaked,” and this 
dire American blueprint for Germany’s tomorrow 
undoubtedly still further stiffened Nazi resistance dur- 
ing the last months of the war. 

Unconditional surrender was a policy of political 
bankruptcy, which delayed our military objective — 
victory — and confirmed our lack of a reasoned pro- 
gramme for peace. It cost us dearly in lives and time, and 
its essentially negative concept has handicapped the 
development of a positive peace program. 

By endorsing the policy, we abandoned any prag- 
matic political aims; victory, as defined in these terms, 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 23 
could not possibly mean a more stable peace, for “un- 
conditional surrender” meant, as Liddell Hart has 
noted, the “complete disappearance of any European 
balance. 

“War to the bitter end was bound to make Russia 
‘top dog 5 on the Continent, to leave the countries of 
Western Europe gravely weakened and to destroy any 
buffer. 5510 

Unconditional surrender could only mean unlimited 
war, and unlimited war has never meant — save in the 
days when Rome sowed the fields of Carthage with 
salt and destroyed her rival with fire and sword — a 
more stable peace. 

This political policy, coupled with a military policy 
of promiscuous destruction by strategic bombing, 
could not help but sow the dragon’s teeth of future 
trouble. 


2. Loss of Eastern Europe 
The long wartime history of strategic differences 
between Britain and the United States started soon 
after Pearl Harbour. From then until just before the 
invasion of southern France in August, 1944, when the 
British finally failed in their last effort to persuade 
us to undertake a Balkan invasion, we steadily cham- 
pioned an invasion of Western Europe and the British 
consistently proposed an alternative or complementary 
invasion of the “underbelly.” 



24 Great Mistakes of the War 

The two differing strategic concepts were separated, 
not only by geography and terrain, but by centuries 
of experience. We sought only military victory — the 
quickest possible victory. The British looked toward 
the peace; victory to them had little meaning if it re- 
sulted in political losses. We saw in the British insist- 
ence upon Southern European “adventures” all sorts of 
malevolent motives; some of our brash young strate- 
gists even claimed the British did not want to fight. It 
is true that Churchill and his advisers were concerned 
about saving fives; the blood bath of World War I 
had weakened Britain dangerously. Churchill was 
determined to avoid the holocaust of great casualties 
and long stalemate. As Stimson put it, “the shadows of 
Passchendaele and Dunkerque still hang too heavily 
over the imagination of the British.” 20 It is also true 
that to Churchill, victim of the Dardanelles fiasco in 
World War I, the Balkans were a psychological mag- 
net; victory there in World War II would justify the 
ill-executed plans of World War I. The great war 
leader believed in “eccentric” strategy : the utilization 
of the Allies’ superior naval and air power to conduct 
attrition attacks against the enemy’s coastlines. The 
pattern of England’s strategy in the Napoleonic wars 
was in his mind. 

These, perhaps, were contributory reasons behind 
the British strategy. But fundamentally the British 
evaluation was politico-military; we ignored the first 
part of that compound word. The British wanted to 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 25 
invade Southern Europe because its lands abut on the 
Mediterranean and are contiguous to the Near East 
important to Britain’s power position in the world. 
For centuries Britain had had major politico-economic 
interests in Greece, other Balkan states, and Turkey; 
for centuries her traditional policy had been to check 
the expansionism of Russia, to support Turkish con- 
trol of the Dardanelles, to participate in Danubian 
riparian rights. In 1942 and 1943, with the Russians in 
deep retreat and the Germans almost at the Caspian, 
the British may not have foreseen 1944 and 1945, with 
the Russians entering the Balkans, but they perceived 
clearly the political importance of this area, and they 
saw that an invasion there would save it — in the 
best possible manner, by soldiers on the ground — 
against either Russian or German interests, and in so 
doing, would safeguard the British “lifeline” through 
the Mediterranean. Thus the British believed Germany 
could be beaten and the peace won “by a series of 
attritions in northern Italy; in the eastern Mediter- 
ranean, in Greece, in the Balkans, in Rumania and 
other satellite countries.” 21 

These proposals were advanced, not only by the 
British generals, but chiefly and most vigorously by 
British statesmen — Churchill, Eden, and Smuts. Stim- 
son noted their insistence, yet in his book, On Active 
Service, after citing the factual history of our strategic 
divergences, he describes as “wholly erroneous” the 
view that “the British opposition to Overlord [inva- 



26 Great Mistakes of the War 

sion of western France] was guided by a desire to 
block Soviet Russia by an invasion further east. 

“Never in any of his [Stimson’s] long and frank 
discussions with the British leaders was any such argu- 
ment advanced, and he saw no need whatever to 
assume any such grounds for the British position. Not 
only did the British have many good grounds to fear 
a cross-Channel undertaking, but Mr. Churchill had 
been for nearly thirty years a believer in what he 
called the ‘right hook.’ In 1943 he retained all his 
long-held strategic convictions, combined with a nat- 
ural British concern for the Mediterranean theatre,” 
and in Stimson’s view that was all there was to it. 22 

But there was more behind the British position than 
military logic, Stimson notwithstanding. It is true that 
the British, in general and except in their most intimate 
conversations with lower-level Americans than Stim- 
son, utilized military rather than political arguments 
to bolster their case. But this was natural; Mr. Roose- 
velt, in some of the discussions, sided with the Russians 
rather than with Churchill. Moreover, some of our 
strategic talks were three-cornered; the British could 
not very well utilize political arguments — the hope of 
blocking Russia — in conferences which Russian repre- 
sentatives attended; an effort had to be made to main- 
tain the stability of the unnatural “Big Three” alliance 
that had been created. It must be remembered that 
during the latter part of the war it was Britain that 
filled the role the United States now occupies, of chief 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 27 
protagonist vis-k-vis Russia, in the battle for Europe. 
Roosevelt was the “mediator, 55 Stalin and Churchill the 
polite but definite antagonists of the conference tables. 

It is, of course, true that British preoccupation with 
Southern Europe was not wholly political in motive; 
the British were never stupid enough to think they 
could win the peace by losing the war. Their military 
logic was good, although the difficult Balkan terrain 
did not help their arguments. They believed an inva- 
sion through the “soft underbelly’ 5 would catch the 
German Army in the rear, would find a recruitment 
of strength from the doughty Slavs of the occupied 
countries, and would provide via the Danube a broad 
highway into Germany. But the British clearly were 
thinking of winning the peace as well as the war; 
observers with less fiery righteousness than Mr. Stim- 
son, but perhaps more perspicacity, noted repeatedly 
the political-minded mental processes of our allies. 

Thus, soon after we entered the war, the British 
proposed Gymnast (later called Super-Gymnast, and 
finally Torch) — an invasion of North Africa, at 
Dakar, Casablanca, the Cape Verdes, or Oran. The 
original date then mentioned was March, 1942! By 
January 2, 1942, when General Joseph Stilwell, 

then slated to command Gymnast, attended one of his 
early conferences in Washington, the lines had been 
drawn : “Gerow, Somervell, Arnold, Clark, Chief of 
Staff, and I. All against it. Limeys claim Spain would 
‘bitterly oppose 5 Germans. What rot. 5528 
c 



28 Great Mistakes of the War 

The dispute roared on down the roads of time, ex- 
ploding now and again at conferences — never settled, 
always recurrent. The British won the first round; they 
got the North African invasion, then Sicily and Italy, 
instead of the plan favoured by the Americans : the 
invasion of western France in July, 1943. But they 
lost in the end; the growing military power of the 
United States and the self-assurance of our strategists 
— sound militarily but weak politically — overbalanced 
them. 

There is no need to trace in detail the fitful fever 
of this strategical discussion, but a brief chart of these 
basic differences with our British allies may help the 
future to understand the errors of the past. 

From the time of our entry into the war, and even 
prior to it, our strategists— Eisenhower, Wedemeyer, 
Marshall, and Stimson particularly — advocated the 
defeat of Germany by an invasion of western France. 
This proposal, as Stimson put it, was the “brain child 
of the United States Army. 5524 

This invasion was to be timed for 1943; if necessary, 
to save the Russian front from utter collapse, a small 
diversionary landing was to be made in France in 1942. 

. . in April, 1942,” Admiral King states, “General 
Marshall had, in consultation with the British in Lon- 
don, taken the initial steps for setting up preparations 
for an invasion of the continent as the major ultimate 
step necessary to defeat Germany. It was recognized 
at that time that it might be necessary to relieve the 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 29 
desperate Russian situation on the Eastern Front by a 
precipitate landing on the Northern coast of France 
in late 1942 (Operation Sledgehammer). If Operation 
Sledgehammer was not found to be necessary the 
landing was to be undertaken the following Spring, 
1943 [Operation Roundup].” 25 

The date for Sledgehammer was originally set for 
September 15, 1942. The proposed 1943 invasion was 
given full support by our military leaders. The British 
were distinctly lukewarm about the project; Churchill 
was particularly horrified at the thought of the pro- 
jected 1942 “sacrifice” landing, and from the begin- 
ning championed Gymnast, later renamed Torch : the 
invasion of North Africa. The President initially lent 
tacit support to the 1943 invasion and, if necessary, to 
the 1942 diversionary landing, but he was never fully 
persuaded; and in June, 1942, the whole subject was 
reopened. 

Then, in a famous meeting at the White House, 
described by Martin Sommers in the Saturday Even - 
ing Post y Churchill and the American strategists, 
with Wedemeyer as our spokesman, debated strategy. 
In this meeting Churchill was eloquent in favour of a 
“surge from the Mediterranean along the historic Bel- 
grade- Warsaw axis”; Wedemeyer, without the benefit 
of the Churchillian rhetoric, spoke logically in favour 
of the 1943 cross-Channel operation. As Sommers puts 
it, “Churchill, because of his influence on President 
Roosevelt, won his fight to avoid a cross-Channel 



30 Great Mistakes of the War 

operation in 1943. He lost on his determination to 
force an offensive via Belgrade to Warsaw — to an 
extent because when the Russians heard about this 
plan , they raised shrill objections” 2 * (italics mine). 

The President, moved in part by his impatience 
for action, in part by domestic considerations, in 
sisted upon some American operation in the Euro- 
pean-North African theatre in 1942, and, as Stimson 
puts it, Gymnast, the North African invasion, was the 
“President’s great secret baby.” 27 The President’s in- 
sistence upon action, plus the course of events — the 
Russians, in July, 1942, were fighting with their backs 
to the wall at Stalingrad and in the Caucasus — led to 
a conference in London in late July, 1942. 

“At this conference,” writes Admiral King, “the 
British Chiefs of Staff were adamant in their view that 
the invasion of northern France [Sledgehammer] 
could not be undertaken. This view was initially op- 
posed by the United States Chiefs of Staff and the 
United States Government. The conference decided, 
however, that invasion of French Northwest Africa 
could and should be undertaken. . . .” 28 

At Casablanca in January, 1943, after the successful 
invasion of North Africa, the British — to the ill-con- 
cealed fury of our strategists — insisted that the cross- 
Channel operation tentatively scheduled for the spring 
of 1943 could not possibly be undertaken before the 
Autumn, if then. 

Churchill and the British were still strong at Casa- 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 31 
blanca for an attack on the “soft underbelly” of 
Europe; Churchill saw Sicily as a step toward the 
Dodecanese Islands, Greece, and the Balkans; “always 
he was of the opinion that we should contrive our 
entry into Europe in such a way as to meet the Red 
Army in central Europe, so that Britain’s sphere of 
influence might be maintained as far east as possible.” 29 

But our Allies were also motivated by sound military 
considerations; in retrospect it is now obvious that 
our concept of invading Western Europe in 1942 was 
fantastic; our deficiencies in North Africa, which was 
a much needed training school for our troops, proved 
that. The British objection to a 1943 cross-Channel 
operation was also soundly taken militarily; we would 
have had in that year neither the trained divisions, the 
equipment, the planes, the experience, nor (particu- 
larly) the landing craft to have invaded the most 
strongly held part of the continent against an enemy 
whose strength was far greater than it was a year 
later. 30 

Sicily inevitably led to an invasion of Italy, an opera- 
tion envisaged first as a limited one against the boot 
of the Italian peninsula, then later for the seizure of 
air bases at Foggia, the quick capture of Rome, and 
the consequent political-psychological advantage. 
Churchill saw Italy and Sicily as bases for a jump east- 
ward into the Balkans, and he continued, with the aid 
of his military leaders, to push this project. 

Admiral King points out that although the British 



3 $ Great Mistakes of the War 

specifically agreed to limit the Italian operations and 
the Mediterranean effort, “they nevertheless as time 
went on and succeeding conferences took place, con- 
tinued to press more and more for operations in the 
Mediterranean and to oppose final and firm commit- 
ments for the cross-Channel operation. 

“Indeed at Anfa [Casablanca] a number of the Brit- 
ish delegation were confident that Germany would 
accept defeat by January i, i944. ,,sl 

But American strength had now been mobilized; 
Roosevelt was now firm for Overlord (formerly 
called Roundup), the invasion of Normandy, and the 
British were forced to agree at Quebec in August, 
1943, that Overlord should have the “inside track.” 
While planning and preparations for the cross-Channel 
operation in late spring of 1944 were being made, 
the indefatigable “P.M.” — never one to surrender 
easily once he had sunk his teeth into an argument — 
tried in various ways to modify or postpone Overlord, 
or at least to parallel it by an invasion of the Balkans. 
He was persistent and insistent, and so were his ad- 
visers. Churchill returned to the charge at the Moscow 
Conference of Foreign Ministers in October, and at 
Cairo and Teheran in late 1943 he made another effort. 
At Cairo on November 24 he made a long and elo- 
quent talk to the American and British staff and to 
Roosevelt about the advantages of operations in the 
Aegean Sea and against the island of Rhodes. 

At Teheran the British again advocated the Balkan 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 33 
invasion, but Roosevelt, stressing the geographical ad- 
vantages of the cross-Channel assault and the terrain 
difficulties of the Balkans, said that only an invasion 
of western France could be considered, from the Rus- 
sian point of view a “second front. 55 Stalin naturally 
sided with Roosevelt; indeed, the two “got along 55 not 
only at Teheran but at Yalta. The personality of each 
attracted the other; the language barrier helped rather 
than handicapped the process; Stalin’s flattery, but not 
Stalin’s subtle manipulations, reached the President. 
A common tongue, Churchill’s great mastery of that 
tongue, and his far wider knowledge of the European 
world which made his superior political brilliance 
perceptible — plus the intransigent unanimity of 
American military advice — made the Stalin-Roosevelt 
“alliance” possible. As one great witness of those days 
has put it, “Roosevelt and Stalin were on the same 
side in any disagreement.” 32 And so it was that on 
November 30, 1943, the invasion of Normandy was 
finally decided at Teheran, and Stalin strongly sup- 
ported the southern France invasion, rather than a 
trans-Adriatic operation into the Balkans which was 
mentioned by Roosevelt and backed strongly by 
Churchill. 

This Teheran decision, in which Stalin’s unequivo- 
cal insistance upon an invasion of western France and 
the unanimity of the American military were the 
decisive factors, really settled the postwar political 
fate of Eastern Europe. 



34 Great Mistakes of the War 

Major General John R. Deane in his book says of 
Teheran: “Stalin appeared to know exactly what he 
wanted at the Conference. This was also true of 
Churchill, but not so of Roosevelt. This is not said as 
a reflection on our President, but his apparent inde- 
cision was probably the direct result of our obscure 
foreign policy. President Roosevelt was thinking of 
winning the war; the others were thinking of their 
relative positions when the war was won. Stalin wanted 
the Anglo-American forces in Western not Southern 
Europe; Churchill thought our postwar position would 
be improved and British interests best served if the 
Anglo-Americans as well as the Russians participated 
in the occupation of the Balkans. 5533 (italics mine) 

Even after the definitive decisions of Teheran, 
Churchill was not quite done; although the Normandy 
operation was now certain, a companion invasion of 
the Balkans might be possible. 

In Italy, the Allies had been halted in the tangled 
mountain country south of Rome; the Rapido ran 
red with blood. Churchill conceived, pushed, and all 
but executed an amphibious end run. Operation 
Shingle, the Anzio beachhead landing, was intended 
to expedite the taking of Rome, and may also have 
been intended (though this is more doubtful), as 
Elliott Roosevelt declares, as “Churchill’s last — highly 
individual, resolutely high-handed — attempt to force 
invasion of Europe via the South rather than the 
West.” 84 But Anzio, too, bogged down, and major 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 35 
American energies were now concentrated on Over- 
lord and Normandy. 

Rome fell, and Normandy was invaded, and in the 
summer of 1944 — a summer of Allied triumphs, with 
the Russian armies still largely in Russia — Churchill 
made his final efforts to influence the future fate of 
the world. The British tried repeatedly to have the 
forces that were to be used in the invasion of southern 
France committed instead to a cross- Adriatic opera- 
tion — the objective a landing in the Trieste-Fiume 
area to take the German armies in Italy on the flank, 
a push through the Ljubljana Gap into Austria, and a 
fanning out into the Austro-Hungarian plain with its 
ideal sites for air bases. By then, Churchill, as he has 
revealed in private discussions since the war, had no 
illusions about saving the Balkans from Russian dom- 
ination; he knew possession, in the Russian lexicon, 
was nine-tenths of the law; but he did hope that Cen- 
tral Europe could be liberated first by the Western 
Allies. At a meeting at the headquarters of Field 
Marshal Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, British supreme 
commander in the Mediterranean, General Marshall 
tried to sound out the British and American Mediter- 
ranean commanders about the project, which in view 
of strong British backing was assuming formidable 
dimensions. General Ira Eaker, then commanding the 
Mediterranean Air Forces, had not been briefed about 
General Marshall’s antipathy for what he considered 
an unsound (militarily) diversion, and when asked his 



36 Great Mistakes of the War 

opinion in the meeting Eaker said that from the air 
point of view it would be easier to support a trans- 
Adriatic operation than the invasion of southern 
France. The bases, he pointed out, already had been 
established in Italy, and our planes could operate in 
support of the Trieste move from these bases. But the 
southern France operation would have to be supported 
from new bases in Corsica. 

After the meeting was over, General Marshall com- 
mented wryly and somewhat bitterly to General 
Eaker : “You’ve been too damned long with the 
British.” 35 

In furtherance of their final effort to put Allied 
troops into Central Europe before the Red Armies 
occupied those countries, the British “worked” on 
General Mark W. Clark, then commanding our army 
in Italy. The King of England, on a visit to the Italian 
front in July, 1944, about a month before the southern 
France invasion, is said to have suggested to Clark the 
advantages of such a Balkan operation and reportedly 
tried to enlist his support of the project with the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff. 

General Clark, in a letter to this writer, dated Oc- 
tober 15, 1948, recalls the King’s visit “when we were 
approaching the Apennines,” but adds : “I do not recall 
that he discussed with me the advisability of pushing 
our principal effort into the Balkans. 

. . it was common knowledge that the British 
were desirous of carrying the war into the Balkans. 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 37 
This subject was discussed with me on several occa- 
sions by various Britishers in high places, commencing 
early in 1944. I recall General Alexander [later Field 
Marshal Viscount Alexander, then in command of all 
land forces in Italy] presenting his views on this sub- 
ject. ... I must say that I agree with the wisdom of 
pushing our main effort to the East rather than con- 
tinue to buck straight ahead against the mountains and 
the overwhelming resistance of the Germans. To have 
taken advantage of Tito’s situation with the oppor- 
tunity of landing a part of our forces across the 
Adriatic, behind protected beachheads which Tito 
could have provided, with the bulk of our forces in 
Italy attacking through the Ljubljana Gap would, if 
successful, have placed the Western Allies in a much 
stronger position at the end of the war to meet the 
ever-increasing challenge of Soviet world domination.” 

In all these discussions of a trans-Adriatic operation, 
the Ljubljana Gap and the Istrian peninsula were 
usually favoured, but landings further south along the 
Dalmation coast near Zara or Split were also men- 
tioned. The British were persistent; the project was 
pushed “even as late as September, 1944,” 86 after the 
forces that invaded southern France had formed a 
junction with Patton’s rampaging army that had 
broken out of the Normandy beachhead. 

Much has been made, since the war, of the strategic 
importance of the southern France invasion; without 
it, it has been said, most of the German forces south 



38 Great Mistakes of the War 

of Brittany would have escaped. But we now know 
that most of the German forces did escape. The south- 
ern France invasion was originally timed to coincide 
with the invasion of Normandy in June, 1944, and 
simultaneous invasions in west and south would have 
divided the German forces in France. But lack of 
landing craft, caused chiefly by the belated strengthen- 
ing of the Normandy invasion force, and (to a far 
lesser extent) the bogging down of the Italian cam- 
paign which delayed the amphibious training schedule 
in the Mediterranean, forced a postponement of the 
southern France operation until August 15. And we 
now know from German records that a Nazi with- 
drawal from France already had started even before 
the Anvil-Dragoon (southern France) landings. Many 
German troops were cut up and captured by the 
junction of Patton’s forces with those that landed on 
the Cote d’Azur, but many of the enemy combat units 
completed successfully their withdrawal to the Ger- 
man frontier. Much of the strategic meaning of the 
southern France invasion undoubtedly was lost when 
the two-months’ postponement became necessary; when 
this decision was reached, the arguments for the trans- 
Adriatic invasion became overwhelming. 

Despite these arguments it was not to be; the British 
despite the great eloquence of Churchill and the 
reasoned logic of his staff, had failed; the American 
strategy — heartily endorsed by the Russians — was the 
pattern of conquest. 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 39 
It was, of course, a successful pattern, for it was a 
very sound plan militarily, probably sounder in a 
military sense than a Balkan invasion, and it led to 
unconditional surrender. But it also led to the domina- 
tion of Eastern and Central Europe by Russia and the 
postwar upset in the European balance of power which 
has been so obvious since the war. American strategy 
was not, of course, the only factor in this political 
defeat. Churchill made his share of mistakes. Initially, 
he embraced the Russians, when the Germans attacked 
them, like a band of brothers. His — and our — aban- 
donment of Mikhailovitch in Yugoslavia and his en- 
dorsement of Tito (formalized at Teheran), whom he 
thought he could control with British gold; the tacit 
acceptance of Russia’s claims to Poland’s eastern ter- 
ritories and the division of Europe into spheres of 
influence with predominant control of the Balkans — 
except for Greece and Yugoslavia — allotted to Russia, 
also contributed to our loss of the peace. This latter 
was a particularly heinous mistake. Churchill was its 
principal architect. He recognized, apparently as early 
as 1942, Russia’s “predominant interest” in Eastern 
Europe. Secretary Hull opposed this concept, but the 
President, without Hull’s knowledge, agreed to the 
initial arrangement. Further agreements between Lon- 
don and Moscow in 1944, coupled with the concen- 
tration of Western military strength in France , in- 
stead of Southern and Central Europe , further fortified 
the Russian position. 



40 Great Mistakes of the War 

But the dominant factor in the political complexion 
of Europe after the war was the presence of Red Army 
soldiers in all the countries east of the Trieste-Stettin 
line. The eruption of the Russians into the Danube 
basin gave them control over one of Europe’s greatest 
waterways, access to Central Europe’s granaries and 
great cities, and a strategical position of tremendous 
power at the centre of Europe. 

An invasion of Southern Europe might have avoided 
this unfortunate climax to a war of “liberation.” Cham- 
pions of the western invasion point out that attack 
from the south might have permitted the Russians to 
advance through northern Germany, almost uncheck- 
ed to the Low Countries, and perhaps even into 
France. This seems highly unlikely. In the north the 
Nazis fought in defence of their own soil; in the south, 
of alien soil. The bitter last-ditch German defence on 
the Oder and the bloody battle of Berlin showed the 
type of fanatic resistance the Reichswehr offered in 
the north; in the Balkans, on the other hand, resistance 
was sporadic. A large-scale Mediterranean invasion 
might have been mounted some months sooner than 
the June, 1944, attack in Normandy; bases already 
were available in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, and 
the dirty Channel winter weather was not a factor. 
There was a real chance, as Churchill believed, that a 
push from Belgrade up the Danube into Czecho- 
slovakia, eastern Germany, and into Poland would have 
beaten the Red Armies to northern Europe. 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 41 

A southern invasion, in any case, presupposed a 
war of limited military objectives and definite political 
aims, not unconditional surrender or unlimited con- 
quest. It implied a beaten Germany but also a weak- 
ened Russia. 

And attack through the “soft underbelly” and in- 
vasion from the west were never mutually exclusive 
operations. One naturally complemented the other; 
this was particularly true after the successful invasion 
of Normandy. There can be little argument that the 
invasion of southern France two months after the 
Normandy attack had little military, and no political, 
significance; our main effort in the Mediterranean 
should have been transferred from France and Italy 
across the Adriatic. 

All of this Churchill and the British had clearly 
foreseen; none of this, insofar as the public record 
goes, did we foresee. Not all Americans , of course, 
were so completely bereft of political foresight. But 
those who possesed it were not in positions of power. 
A paper was actually written in the old Military Intel- 
ligence Division (G-2) of the War Department warn- 
ing of the exact dangers which later developed. But 
the authors had their ears pinned back by a superior, 
who told them sharply : “The Russians have no politi- 
cal objectives in the Balkans; they are there for mili- 
tary reasons only.” 

The majority of Americans who had the power to 



42 Great Mistakes of the War 

influence events opposed the British concept of inva- 
sion of Europe through the “underbelly/’ Yet, so 
great was our physical strength, so impeccable our 
military logic, that rationalization triumphed over 
foresight. Today some of the principal architects of 
our policy understand their mistakes; and many of our 
great military figures of the war now admit freely 
that the British were right and we were wrong. For 
we forgot that all wars have objectives and all victories 
conditions; we forgot that winning the peace is equally 
as important as winning the war; we forgot that 
politico-military is a compound word. 


3. Loss of Central Europe 

Just as our problems in Eastern Europe had their 
roots in the political astigmatism of Teheran, so our 
postwar difficulties and defeats in Central Europe — 
notably in Berlin and Vienna and Czechoslovakia — * 
are the fruits of mistakes made during the war in dis- 
cussions in Washington and London, Quebec and 
Yalta. 

The Soviet ground blockade of Berlin, which 
brought the United States so close to war with Russia 
in 1948, was possible only because the United States 
had no control over the communications to Berlin, 
and no precise written definition of our communica- 
tion rights. The postwar Communist coup in Czecho- 
slovakia was aided by Russian propaganda, which 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 43 
pointed out that Prague had been liberated by Russian 
arms. In Austria, too, the Russians made good post- 
war political capital of their wartime accomplishments. 
These difficulties stem directly from our lack of politico- 
military realism during the war. 

Our failure to define properly our right of access 
to Berlin has been placed publicly almost exclusively 
on the shoulders of a dead man — the late John G. 
Winant, wartime Ambassador to Britain, and the chief 
U.S. representative on the European Advisory Com- 
mission. This commission, composed of representa- 
tives of the United States, Great Britain, and Russia, 
commenced after the Teheran conference in Decem- 
ber, 1 943 (where Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin 
briefly discussed the subject of postwar Germany) to 
consider the German problem, including the problems 
of occupation and government and the geographi- 
cal limitations of the zones to be occupied by the 
various Allies. 

Winant was a sincere idealist, who hoped for the 
“brave new world.” He was devoted to his country’s 
interests and to the welfare of man, but as an Ambas- 
sador he was somewhat vague and his administration 
was more distinguished for its impulsive warmth than 
its precision. 

One of the Ambassador’s very good friends, who 
had flown with him during the first war and who held 
a high command during the second war, told this 
writer that it was his understanding that Mr. Winant 

D 



44 Great Mistakes of the War 

resisted military attempts to define precisely our con- 
trol of the corridor to Berlin, and declared : . . the 

Russians are our Allies and we must trust them, must 
have faith in them. If you don’t have faith you have 
nothing . . . Such a remark seems in character. 

Nevertheless, this writer is convinced that the blame 
for Berlin cannot be laid — exclusively, or even to a 
major degree — upon the shoulders of Winant. One 
who knew his work well in the European Advisory 
Commission has written : “Mr. Winant’s basic posi- 
tion was that our most difficult and dangerous post- 
war problem would be our relations [and Britain’s] 
with Russia; that it was important to secure as wide 
a measure of written agreement as possible during 
hostilities since our direct bargaining power would 
decline rapidly after the end of hostilities; that Amer- 
ica was in the strongest position to press for such 
agreements; that the agreements should be so detailed 
and precise that the Russians could not quibble out 
of them; and that we must deal frankly and fully with 
the Russians. . . . Mr. Winant was neither ‘a trusting 
soul’ nor an ‘appeaser.’ ” 

The truth is that the old and dangerous dichotomy 
between foreign and military policies seems to have 
been, in part, responsible for the lack of definition of 
a Berlin approach corridor. Winant, and the U.S. 
delegation to the European Advisory Commission, did 
not really make a policy; they had a certain amount 
of freedom and initiative, but all major instructions 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 45 
were the product of Washington, and emanated pri- 
marily from the President and the Secretaries of War 
and State. 

Co-ordination between the military and the State 
departments in W ashington was supposed to have 
been accomplished by the Working Security Com- 
mittee, the predecessor of the State-War-Navy Co- 
ordinating Committee (the famous SWINK), and the 
conclusions of this committee were approved by the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of State, and, 
in major issues, by Roosevelt. Minor instructions to 
the European Advisory Commission were often cleared 
by the Working Security Committee with an Assis- 
tant Secretary of State or an individual member of the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff. All agreements reached in the 
EAC were formally approved by the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff, by the Secretary of State, and by the President, 
and only then was Mr. Winant permitted to write 
letters to the other heads of delegations confirming 
the agreements signed. Mr. Winant, therefore, was an 
agent rather than a formulator; the blame, as in most 
of our wartime mistakes, rests primarily upon Wash- 
ington. 

When the European Advisory Commission was 
meeting in its first months of life (December, 1943, 
and January, 1944), the State Department proposed in 
Washington that the three zones of postwar occupa- 
tion in Germany (France had not then been included 
as an occupying power) be so drawn as to bring each 



46 Great Mistakes of the War 

into contact with Berlin. For some reason that defies 
logical understanding now, the War Department re- 
jected this suggestion, which would have solved nearly 
all our postwar Berlin difficulties, so that it was never 
even broached in the EAC. In February, 1944, the 
British informally suggested that a “corridor’ 5 to Berlin 
be established and defined, but the War Department 
again objected, stating that this was not a subject 
for the European Advisory Commission, but that the 
entire question of access to Berlin was “a military 
matter 55 which should be settled at the proper time 
by military representatives. 

This eventually was the solution, but the military 
representatives made a botch of it. In May, 1945, our 
armies stood deep on German soil. The zonal occupa- 
tion agreements for Germany, worked out by the 
EAC, approved at the Quebec conference, and modi- 
fied at Yalta (to include France) placed Berlin in the 
Russian zone; the British and U.S. zonal boundaries — 
contrary to the original recommendation of the State 
Department — lay 100 miles to the west. In May, 1945, 
EAC’s work was done, and SHAEF was briefed as to 
its accomplishments. 

The SHAEF representative inquired about access 
to Berlin and was told by the European Advisory 
Commission that this problem had been left by War 
Department insistence to the military, and that with 
U.S. troops already fighting in what eventually was 
scheduled to become part of the Russian zone of 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 47 
occupation of Germany, the whole question of with- 
drawal of our troops from the Russian zone and access 
to Berlin ought to be taken up together. In other 
words, even as late as May, 1945, at the war’s end, we 
still had a bargaining point; we were in possession — 
by conquest — of large parts of Germany, including 
areas slated to be in the Russian zone; we could have 
conditioned our withdrawal upon acceptance by the 
Russians of a secure access corridor to our zone in 
Berlin. The SHAEF representative, in fact, was told 
that such a corridor agreement ought to include the 
establishment of our own guard, with U.S. troops 
along the access road and railroad, establishment of 
vehicle repair and supply points, military telegraph 
and telephone, right to repair and maintain the road 
and railroads, and provision for definite alternative 
routes in case the named routes were not usable for 
any reason. 

This advice was not heeded. The military them- 
selves, after the German collapse, in an agreement of 
June, 1945, concluded an arrangement which was so 
general and imprecise as to be productive of future 
trouble. General Lucius D. Clay has assumed responsi- 
bility for the terms of this agreement, and he must 
bear part of this burden, but he alone is not respon- 
sible. The advice he received was none too good; the 
dangerous breach between State and War still existed; 
and Eisenhower, Clay, and their advisers negotiated 
against the background of a psychological delusion, 



48 Great Mistakes of the War 

then so prevalent in our government, that the Russians 
were our political as well as military “buddies,” and 
that we could “get along” with Stalin. But basically 
and fundamentally the responsibility for the Berlin 
corridor fiasco rests with the War Department in 
Washington; at the time the European Advisory Com- 
mission was conducting negotiations, the War Depart- 
ment, working with a weak State Department, had 
the bit in its teeth and assumed a mantle it had neither 
competence nor right to wear : the mantle of divine 
political wisdom. 

In retrospect, it seems probable that the War 
Department’s triumph in this interdepartmental struggle 
for power in Washington was fore-ordained. The War 
Department’s senior personnel were stronger and 
more able men; they had behind them, in war, the 
great force of public backing. The die — which was 
to be indicative of later decisions — was probably cast 
early in the war, when Robert Murphy, who was to 
be the State Department’s and Roosevelt’s political 
representative in North Africa, was made political 
adviser, subordinate to General Eisenhower, instead 
of an Ambassador autonomous in his own right. 

It was thus largely on the basis of “faith” — faith 
not alone in the Russians, but military faith in the 
military interpretation of political problems — that the 
Berlin corridor agreement was drawn up. 

But the corridor agreement was not only the pro- 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 49 
duct of this mistake, not only the by-product of the 
interdepartment struggle for power in Washington. 

In March and April, 1945, as the war against Ger- 
many was drawing to an end, Eastern Europe had 
gone irretrievably; our earlier failure to invade the 
Balkans had cost us dearly. But important parts of 
Central Europe — Berlin, the Bohemian bastion, and 
Prague, and possibly Vienna — were still at stake. 

As early as March 28, with the Allied armies on the 
Rhine three hundred miles from Berlin and the Rus- 
sians on the Oder thirty miles from Berlin, General 
Eisenhower sent a personal message to Stalin via the 
U.S. Military Mission in Moscow. This message out- 
lined his plans for a strong push in the centre by 
General Omar Bradley’s American forces to a junction 
with the Russians on the Elbe, to be followed by flank 
drives by the British in the north to cut off the Danish 
peninsula and seize the North German ports, and by 
the Americans and French in the south into Austria to 
eliminate the possibility of a last-ditch stand by the 
Nazis in the so-called “National Redoubt.” Churchill 
protested this communication by Eisenhower to Stalin 
as an intrusion by the military into political matters, 
and was vehemently critical of the plan; in Eisen- 
hower’s words, “he was greatly disappointed and 
disturbed because my plan did not first throw Mont- 
gomery forward with all the strength I could give 
him from the American forces in the desperate attempt 



50 Great Mistakes of the War 

to capture Berlin before the Russians could do so.” 87 
But ChurchilPs protest to Washington was overruled. 

Eisenhower’s defence against this protest has some 
merits; there is no doubt that he was perfectly within 
his rights in communicating his plans to Stalin; he had 
been previously authorized to do so. But his dismissal 
of the Berlin plan as militarily unwise, and his fear that 
an attempt to take the city would necessitate diversion 
of forces from other parts of the front to that sole 
task — a “stupid” diversion — and his over emphasis on 
the “National Redoubt” were, it is now clear, mis- 
taken. Intelligence failures again played a part in this 
mistake; the “National Redoubt” — fortifications and 
supplies supposed to have been prepared by the Nazi 
SS formations in the German-Austrian Alps for a last 
stand — was grossly overrated in our estimates. We 
learned later that relatively little work on the “Re- 
doubt” had been done; the scheme was more an idea 
than an accomplishment. Churchill, in other words, 
again emerges in the Berlin matter a wily old fox of 
international politics; his vision was not obscured by 
the needs of the moment. 

Our troops, after crossing the Rhine, swept east- 
ward with relatively little opposition. Agreements had 
been reached with the Russians that when contact 
between the two armies seemed imminent, a line of 
demarcation should be arranged beyond which each 
army should not move. This boundary was “tempor- 
arily fixed” — in the words of General Eisenhower’s 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 51 
final report — “in the central sector” along the easily 
identified line of the Elbe and Mulde rivers; the Rus- 
sians were so notified in Eisenhower’s message to 
Stalin of March 28 (which evoked the Churchill pro- 
test). By April 12, the first American bridgehead 
across the Elbe had been established; we were 100 
miles from Berlin, and the Russians, thirty miles from 
that city on the Oder, were just starting their final 
offensive. It was not until April 25 that the Russians 
reached the Elbe; in other words, for about three 
weeks our forces remained virtually static on that line 
of demarcation, and not until early May was the 
Russian battle for Berlin finally won. 

Further south our troops moved into Czechoslovakia 
on April 18, and then on to Pilsen. Prague lay virtually 
defenceless near at hand; reconnaissance elements of 
the Third Army were in its outskirts. The Soviet 
High Command, when informed by General Eisen- 
hower that our troops would move on toward Prague 
if (in former Secretary of State Byrne’s words) “the 
situation required it,” 88 requested that our forces 
“should not advance beyond the Budejovice-Pilsen- 
Karlsbad line.” So again our troops marked time, and 
the honour and political prestige of taking Prague 
went to the Russians. “I was very much chagrined,” 
noted the late General George S. Patton, Jr., “be- 
cause I felt, and I still feel, that we should have gone 
on to the Moldau River and if the Russians didn’t like 
it, then let them go to hell.” 89 



52 Great Mistakes of the War 

So, too, in the south, where the agreed demarcation 
line ran down the Budejovice-Linz railroad and along 
the valley of the Enns, Vienna, a possible prize, was 
voluntarily relinquished. 

There was some military reason for this restraint. 
Two armies surging forward toward each other — a 
desperate enemy in between — are difficult to control; 
Eisenhower was concerned about accidental collisions. 
Moreover, it would not have been easy for us to take 
Berlin first. The Russians were thirty miles from that 
city when we were a hundred miles away on the Elbe; 
and though General Omar N. Bradley estimated that 
we could take the city, or at least participate in its 
capture, it would be at the cost of perhaps 100,000 
casualties. Our troops had been moving fast and hard; 
the supply problem was difficult — and in any case the 
Western Allies had advanced far beyond the zonal 
boundaries agreed upon by the Allied governments, 
and further advance would only have meant eventual 
evacuation of additional territory east of the Elbe. 

Eisenhower felt moreover (in his own words in his 
final report) that “Berlin no longer represented a 
military objective of major importance” and that 
“military factors, when the enemy was on the brink 
of final defeat, were more important . . . than the 
political considerations involved in an Allied capture 
of the capital.” 

General Eisenhower’s own inclinations about Berlin 
apparently had the full support of Washington; 



Germany and Russia — The Struggle in Europe 53 
Edgar Ansel Mowrer reports in The Nightmare of 
American Foreign Policy that he had been personally 
told by the White House that “the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff advised Truman to let the Russians take Berlin.” 
President Truman, new to the White House and 
without much background about the past nuances of 
our politico-military policies, apparently acceded. 

Both political and military decisions, therefore, 
halted our armies along the Elbe, the Mulde, and the 
Enns in the closing days of the Third Reich. There 
were military reasons, which seemed good at the time, 
for not pressing the advance to the utmost, but they 
were not decisive; the boundaries marked out by the 
European Advisory Commission and approved at 
Quebec and Yalta coloured the thinking of our com- 
manders. We could have moved further eastward. But 
the political die had been cast; there was not much 
point in military sacrifice for a political lost cause. 

The effect of all these decisions was to make Berlin 
an island in a Russian sea and to give Soviet troops 
firm control of Central Europe. 



III. Japan and Russia— 

The Struggle in the Pacific 

the great American military mistakes of the war, 
which may be said to have cost us the peace, were all 
part and parcel of our political immaturity. We fought 
to win — period. We gave far too little thought to the 
victory of the peace. 

In the war against Germany, some of our outstand- 
ing political-strategic mistakes, from the point of view 
of winning the peace, were our failure to invade the 
Balkans, unconditional surrender, and the errors 
which led to the loss of Central Europe, which were 
described in the first part of this book. But the war 
against Germany had no monopoly of errors; we erred 
also in the Pacific. We won the war against Japan, but 
who will say — against the background of the Orient 
of today — that we won the peace? 

54 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 55 

The political mistakes made in the war against 
Japan were several and major; this discussion is not a 
catalogue of them all, but merely a notation on a few 
of them. 

One of the greatest of these errors — our failure to 
develop a politically viable China policy — is treated 
only inferentially in these pages under the section 
“Appeasement in Asia.” The importance of this failure 
is now patent; as these words are written the Chinese 
Communist armies have stormed to the gateways to 
South-east Asia, the crumbling remnants of the Chiang 
Kai-shek regime are broken and scattered, and Com- 
munism has won on the Asiatic continent a campaign 
of vast implications. 

The mistakes of Yalta, described in the second part 
of this book, illuminate and are the fundamental back- 
ground for the errors in our China policy. 

Those errors were founded on the same philosoph- 
ical quicksand that betrayed our steps in Europe. We 
could “play ball” with the Chinese Communists, it 
was said. An influential school of American politicians, 
diplomats, and generals hewed to this idea, even up 
to the abortive end of General George C. Marshall’s 
impossible mission to China after the war, when he 
was given the task of reconciling the irreconcilable : 
of merging Communism with the Chiang Kai-shek 
government. We forgot again in China that true 
co-operation with militant Communism is impossible, 
except on Communism’s own terms, and that the 



56 Great Mistakes of the War 

Chinese Communists were no less an enemy of ours 
than they had been during the war, of Japan. 

But we made other grievous errors in China which 
compounded the basic one. 

One was a mistake in personnel. General Joseph W. 
Stilwell was a lovable character, and a fine soldier; 
but his sometimes acidulous frankness, epitomized by 
his nickname “Vinegar Joe,” the difficulty he had in 
working with the British, and his natural tendency to 
give primacy to military, rather than political, con- 
siderations did not make him the ideal theatre com- 
mander in the most difficult theatre of the war, one 
where toughness needed to be combined with urbanity 
and with great political savoir-faire . Major General 
Claire L. Chennault, Air Commander in China, was 
proficient and effective at his calling — although he, in 
common with many air commanders, underestimated 
air strengths required and tended to neglect ground 
strengths — but he carried on a disgraceful feud with 
Stilwell, his superior, was at times almost insubordi- 
nate, and his arrogant egoism made him, at best, 
difficult. 

Myths of our own creation accounted for other 
basic mistakes. We saw China through an emotional 
cloud, made up of one part missionary propaganda; 
one part the Chinaman of legend, complete with 
bound feet, bird’s-nest soup, and pigtail; and one part 
subjective concepts. We thought — erroneously — of 
China in terms of a nation, and of the Chinese Gov- 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 57 
emment in terms of Western governments; hence the 
shock and disillusionment were greater than they need 
have been when the corruption, dictatorial methods, 
and brutality of the Chiang Kai-shek regime — prac- 
tices common to China and to most Chinese govern- 
ments for decades — became known. We were sold a 
bill of goods about the Chinese Communists; we were 
told they were merely “agrarian reformers,” Chinese 
first and Communists second. (We heard the same 
thing in Czechoslovakia after the war, and Benes and 
Masaryk paid for this mistake with their lives.) And, 
above all, we were idealistic but not pragmatic; we 
helped the Chinese generously but not wisely, not 
selectively. We evolved — painfully, slowly, and with 
difficulty — control over the supplies we gave during 
the war, but no sooner was military victory won than 
we dissolved, voluntarily, our wartime supply system, 
and we relinquished all real control over events in 
China. And yet throughout the war and the chaotic 
period of civil war that followed we could have called 
the tune; the Chiang Kai-shek government needed us 
far more than we needed it. 

To trace the tangled skein of these mistakes in 
China through the war years is beyond the scope of 
this book; only the basic error, epitomized by Yalta, 
is treated here. But it should never be forgotten that 
our errors of omission and commission were manifold 
in China; here, as in so many other theatres, we lost 
the battles for the peace. 



58 Great Mistakes of the War 

1. MacArthur and the Philippines — Origins 
of Service Jealousies 

The defence of the Philippines was an epic of stout- 
hearted suffering, but it was marred by differences, 
frictions, and discords — and high-level errors — which 
influenced the course of the war in the Pacific. Mac- 
Arthur, who created around himself the legend of a 
military demigod, was the focus of some of these 
troubles; others stemmed from our failure to equate 
military policies with political policies in the Philip- 
pines. 

Out of the first Philippine campaign stemmed some 
of the friction which later divided the Army and 
Navy in the Pacific. The origin of this friction, in 
part, predates the war. MacArthur, and the stiff- 
necked old sea dog then commanding our Asiatic 
fleet, Admiral Thomas G. Hart, were markedly dis- 
similar personalities; each had strong and differing 
ideas, and they did not entirely “get along. 55 This 
feeling was transmitted to subordinates and pervaded 
the upper echelons of the two commands. 

The situation was worsened by the successful Japan- 
ese attack nine hours after the attack on Pearl 
Harbour on our grounded bombers at Clark airfield. 
In the aftermath of recriminations, published since 
the war, the Air Force inferentially has blamed the 
Army, and the Army the Air Force, for this debacle. 

It is clear that there were misconceptions on both 
sides; as former Secretary of War Stimson points out, 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 59 
“it was quickly apparent that the hopes of the previous 
autumn could not be realized; there would be no suc- 
cessful defence of the Philippines by air power. The 
preparations had not been completed; the Japanese 
were too strong; most important of all, there had been 
no adequate realization of the degree to which air 
power is dependent on other things than unsupported 
airplanes. . . . Thus the defence of the Philippines 
became once more the desperate and losing struggle 
which had been forecast in the planning of earlier 
years.” 40 

This misconception, a major one, was only par- 
tially shared by the Navy, which had not believed the 
“hopes of the previous autumn” possible of fulfil- 
ment without absolute control of the sea and the sup- 
ply lines to the Philippines, something we could not 
insure even before Pearl Harbour. The Navy, along 
with the Army and Air Force, however, had under- 
estimated Japanese strength and had based much of its 
planning on the assumption that the battleship was 
still queen of the seas. 

Admiral Frederick C. Sherman comments, “our naval 
high command at that time little realized that control 
of the sea was dependent on the air power of carriers 
and not upon the obsolete battleships which were put 
out of action at Pearl Harbour. . . . 

“What rendered the Japanese carrier attack on Pearl 
Harbour a justifiable risk, from the enemy viewpoint, 
was the fact that at the opening of the war they had 

£ 



60 Great Mistakes of the War 

ten earners to our seven, of which we had only three 
in the Pacific. This disparity was the main factor in 
forcing us to take the defensive in the early part of 
the war, and not the loss of our battleships, as popu- 
larly believed.” 41 Our under-estimation of the Japan- 
ese, which stemmed from the highest quarters, was 
major. 

At a background secret press conference in the 
War Department, seven Washington correspondents 
were told by a top-ranking Army official on Novem- 
ber 15, 1941, that we were on the brink of war with 
Japan, that our position was highly favourable in that 
our strength in the Philippines was far larger than 
the Japanese imagined, and that we were preparing 
not only to defend the Philippines but to conduct an 
aerial offensive from those islands against Japan. We 
had, the War Department authority said, thirty-five 
Flying Fortresses in the Philippines — the greatest con- 
centration of heavy bomber strength anywhere in the 
ivorld. More planes were being sent, so were tanks 
and guns; the Philippines were being reinforced daily. 
If war did start, the B-i7’s would be dispatched imme- 
diately to set the “paper” cities of Japan on fire and 
to attack the enemy’s naval bases. The B-i7’s, he 
admitted, did not have quite enough range to make 
the round trip from the Philippines to Japan and 
return, but they could continue to Vladivostok, said 
the Army official optimistically, and if we got into 
war we would expect to have such an arrangement 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 61 
with the Russians. (Even before war we thus incor- 
rectly assessed Russia’s willingness to co-operate.) The 
new B-24’s would soon be coining off the produc- 
tion lines, the correspondents were told, and the 
Japanese had no pursuit planes that could reach these 
high-flying bombers ! By about December 1 5, the 
War Department would feel rather secure in the 
Philippines. Flying weather over Japan was propitious; 
our high-flying bombers could quickly wreak havoc. 
If a Pacific war started, there would not be much 
need for our Navy; the U.S. bombers could do the 
trick virtually single-handed, or, to paraphrase the 
spokesman’s words, without the use of our shipping! 
Our own Pacific fleet would stay out of range of 
Japanese air power in Hawaii.* 

This profound catalogue of error shows not only 
how bemused our top strategists had become with 
the enthusiastic but misguided tenets of the apostles 
of airpower, but it demonstrates graphically how little 
we knew about Japan and Japanese strength. 

It also points to a dangerous dichotomy in our 
strategy. In January, February, and March, 1941, 

* The postwar reasons given for these mistaken judgments are 
interesting. A group of planes, which was to “reinforce heavily” 
the few Flying Fortresses in the Philippines were delayed for 
some weeks by adverse winds and bad weather. Our 1941 appre- 
ciation of what air power meant, of what it could do and what 
it could not do, was deficient. We did not understand that air 
power included airfields, anti-aircraft guns, and ground troops for 
the protection of those fields, all grossly deficient in the Philippines. 
Our judgments of what air power could do were also grossly 
exaggerated. The range of the B-l 7 was consideraby over-estimated. 
The Air Force ability to bomb shipping from high altitudes was 
greatly over-estimated. 



62 Great Mistakes of the War 

almost a year before we entered the war, “staff conver- 
sations between representatives of the Army and Navy 
of Great Britain and the United States took place in 
Washington.” 42 “Rainbow Five,” the basic war plan 
of the United States, was the ultimate result. It repre- 
sented the revision and distillation of many previous 
plans; it was “world-wide in its provisions,” “called for 
a defensive strategy in the Pacific and Far East,” and 
“accepted implicitly the loss of the Philippines, Guam, 
and Wake.” 43 It was “completed not long before the 
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in December, 
1941. ” 44 

Rainbow Five specifically stated that “if Japan does 
enter the war, the military strategy in the Far East 
will be defensive,” and added that “the United States 
does not intend to add to its present military 
strength” 45 in the area. . . . 

But a later revision (November, 1941) provided for 
“offensive air operations in furtherance of the strategic 
defensive. . . .” 4 * 

Rainbow Five was complicated by the existence of 
two other plans, as Dr. Louis Morton, of the Historical 
Division of the Army, points out in his forthcoming 
official history The Fall of the Philippines. The Orange 
plan “was based on the assumption that only the 
United States and Japan would be at war. ... it 
held out no promise of immediate reinforcement to 
the Philippine garrison, but stated that the Navy, in 
a series of operations, would move westward across 



Japan and Russia— The Struggle in the Pacific 63 
the Pacific as rapidly as possible, while maintaining 
secure its line of communications.” Both Rainbow 
Five and Orange envisaged Philippine defence as con- 
fined to the area around Manila Bay, specifically 
Bataan and Corregidor. 

But a third plan, that of the Philippine Common- 
wealth, developed by General MacArthur (then the 
military adviser) contemplated a defence of the entire 
archipelago, although it was not scheduled to go into 
effect until 1946, when the Philippines acquired their 
independence. 47 

Thus, in the Autumn of 1941, at the very time war was 
imminent, three discordant plans for the defence of 
the Philippines existed, “no single one of which was 
followed in its entirety when war came.” 48 Army and 
Air Force leaders were talking — in Washington — in 
terms of an air offensive against Japan, based on the 
Philippines; troops, planes, tanks, and guns were being 
rushed to the Philippines and the Western Pacific in 
a belated reversal of prior planning; and a mistaken 
confidence in the defencibility of the islands mounted. 

These last-minute and drastic revisions in our Philip- 
pine strategic concepts were due in considerable part 
to the dangerous gap that existed between our military 
and political policies, in part to the influence in Wash- 
ington of the air power enthusiasts, and in part to 
MacArthur, whose pre-war estimates of his ability to 
defend the Philippines were wildly over-optimistic. 

MacArthur put a ridiculously high value — as 



64 Great Mistakes of the War 

records in future volumes of the Army’s official history 
will show — in the Philippine motor torpedo boat 
“Navy/ 5 with which he hoped to repel Japanese 
landing attempts. There were only about two Philip- 
pine MTB 5 s avaliable when war started, and they 
played a negative role. Mac Arthur’s pre-war assessment 
of the combat value of the Philippine Army, composed 
largely of five-and-a-half month drafted men, was far 
higher than was warranted, and his mobilization and 
training schedule apparently was predicated on a belief 
that hostilities probably would not start before April 1, 
1942. Moreover, he seemed to feel that the “alert” 
message sent to him about November 27, 1941, by the 
War Department, which indicated war was coming and 
that the first overt act should be committed by Japan, 
compelled him to await attack in the Philippines 
(despite the prior attack on Pearl Harbour) before he 
could undertake the offensive air action contemplated 
by Rainbow War Plan #5. 

The Navy, in common with the Army and Air 
Force, did not anticipate “the rapidity and strength” 49 
of the Japanese offensive. Yet throughout the war, the 
Navy — personified by the stubborn, able, “sun- 
downer” Admiral Ernest J. King — pressed continu- 
ously, usually against some opposition from the Army 
(which was focusing its attention primarily on Europe), 
for greater strength in the Pacific. 

The history of those days clearly reveals that there 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 65 
need not have been, despite these dangerous divisions 
and basic misconceptions, such rapid destruction of 
our Philippine bombing squadrons. 

The Air Force had planned, if war came, to utilize 
its bombers (about half based on Luzon, half on 
Mindanao) in reconnoitering and attacking Japanese 
bases in Formosa; at least twice on the morning of 
December 8 (December 7, Pearl Harbour time) it 
requested MacArthur’s permission, through his Chief 
of Staff, aggressive, egotistic, but able Major-General 
Richard K. Sutherland, to launch the attack. Had 
permission been given, no great results could have 
been anticipated ; our strength was too small, our 
inexperience considerable, and we possessed little accur- 
ate information about target objectives. In other 
words, the Air Force planning lacked comprehensive- 
ness. 

But it would have been far better to have utilized 
our bombers in an offensive mission than to allow 
them to be caught, like sitting ducks, in a “strictly 
defensive” attitude on the ground. 50 MacArthur has 
never made a comprehensive explanation about this 
defeat, but he has stated that no recommendation 
from Lieutenant-General (then Major-General) L. H. 
Brereton, then our air commander in the Philippines, 
to bomb Formosa ever was received, and that he knew 
“nothing of such a recommendation having been 
made.” General MacArthur added — a strange com- 
ment for a commander who knew that the best de- 



66 Great Mistakes of the War 

fence was attack and who knew the defensive-offensive 
projected by Rainbow Five — that “the over-all strategic 
mission of the Philippine command was to defend the 
Philippines, not to initiate an outside [ric] attack.” 
He continued : “Our air forces in the Philippines were 
hardly more than a token force . . . hopelessly out- 
numbered . . . never had a chance of winning. The 
date of April i . . . was the earliest possible date for 
the arrival of the necessary reinforcements which 
would make a successful defence of the Philippines 
possible.” 51 

(These statements stand in strong contrast to the 
optimistic pre-war reports of General MacArthur, and 
indicate a change of opinion on his part after hostilities 
commenced.) 

General Sutherland, MacArthur’s Chief of Staff, 
who took much upon himself, may have taken the 
responsibility of refusing permission for the Formosa 
raid, though he blames Brereton. The Sutherland 
statement is, however, partially refuted by an entry 
in the “Summary of Activities, Headquarters Far 
East Air Force” under 9 a.m., December 8 (Philippine 
time), six hours after Pearl Harbour : “In response to 
query from General Brereton a message received from 
General Sutherland advising planes not authorized to 
carry bombs at this time.” 52 But regardless of Suther- 
land’s actions, MacArthur has revealed since the war 
that a request to bomb Formosa, had it reached him, 
probably would have met delay. An attack on Formosa 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 67 
with the small American force available would have 
had little chance of success, he said. 

The post-war statements by General MacArthur 
reveal either a considerable gulf between the War 
Department’s concept of Far East strategy as revealed 
in the press conference of November 15 and Mac- 
Arthur’s defensive concept of that time, or a change 
of mind on MacArthur’s part since the war. 

Mac Arthur’s then dual status as Field Marshal in 
the Philippine Army and General in the American 
Army, his belief — a mistaken one, as the war showed 
— that the Philippines could, in large measure, provide 
their own defence, and the American commitment to 
Philippine independence, seem to have influenced his 
judgment. Faced with an actual act of war — the 
Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbour some hours 
previously — he hesitated, apparently, to undertake 
offensive action while awaiting either an enemy overt 
act against the Philippines or formalization of hostilities 
by actual declaration. 

This compounded friction; to the Army-Navy diffi- 
culties was now added friction with the Air Force. 

These difficulties grew — as indeed they were bound 
to in any losing action — during the Bataan fighting 
and the siege of Corregidor. Friction that should have 
been minimized was, however, maximized by Mac- 
Arthur’s own mistakes. 

His communiques bore so little resemblance to 
actual events that when the gist of them, cast in a 



68 Great Mistakes of the War 

cheerful mood of utter unreality, was broadcast, via 
U.S. radio, to our suffering troops on Bataan, they 
aroused actual resentment. This error was com- 
pounded on January 15, when, in a personal message 
from MacArthur, his troops were told that “help is 
on the way from the United States. Thousands of 
troops and hundreds of planes are being dispatched. 
The exact time of arrival of reinforcements is un- 
known. . . 

Hopes of some were raised briefly by this utterly 
fantastic order; but it was an ultimate depressant, for 
its promises could never be kept. 

MacArthurs own example did little to inspire his 
men. He rarely visited Bataan; it was on Corregidor 
that he got the name “Dugout Doug.” This appellation 
— an utterly unfair one, in which the Navy delighted 
— cast unwarranted reflections on MacArthur’s per- 
sonal courage, which is outstanding. Time and again 
in two world wars, MacArthur has demonstrated a 
calm and exemplary bravery. The fact remains that 
on the Philippines he was aloof from his troops and 
rarely left “The Rock”; not until months later, in 
New Guinea, when his staff began to note the need 
for such visits, did he commence to circulate among 
his men. 

Contrary to the instructions previously issued to 
his subordinates, MacArthur had kept his family in 
Manila when all other service families had been 
ordered home; Mrs. MacArthur, his son, and his son’s 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 69 
nurse were with the General on Corregidor and took 
the place of men who might have escaped when the 
General on orders from Washington left “The Rock” 
on March 1 1 . 

During his stay on Corregidor, MacArthur left 
many details to his chief of staff, General Sutherland, 
and there was, among the Marines who served on 
Corregidor and Bataan, a well confirmed suspicion that 
the high command did not like Marines. For weeks 
there was no mention in communiques or press re- 
leases of the Marines; finally, when a radio from 
Corregidor casually named them, the Navy Depart- 
ment had to assure the people of the United States 
that the Fourth Regiment of Marines had been in the 
Philippines all along, and that this belated mention did 
not mean the fleet had broken through the Japanese 
blockade and had landed reinforcements. Two days be- 
fore MacArthur left for Australia, the general recom- 
mended all units on Bataan and Corregidor, with 
the exception of Marine and naval units , for unit 
citations. Sutherland let it be known that this was no 
oversight; the Marines had gotten their share of glory 
in World War I, and they weren’t going to get any in 
this one ! Wain wright, who succeeded MacArthur in 
command, rectified this egregious error as soon as he 
took over, but the damage had been done; fuel was 
added to the fire of Army-Navy friction, and the 
MacArthur mistakes of the first Philippine campaign 
— mistakes of personality and judgment — over- 



70 Great Mistakes of the War 

shadowed the relationships between the services 
throughout the rest of the war. 

But the most amazing and the least understandable 
of MacArthur’s Philippine actions was his tacit 
approval of a proposal by President Quezon on Feb- 
ruary 8, 1942, that the Philippines “receive immediate 
and unconditional independence from the United 
States, and that they be forthwith neutralized by 
agreement between Japan and the United States; all 
troops were to be withdrawn and the Philippine Army 
disbanded.” The message from Quezon to President 
Roosevelt railed against the United States for its failure 
to reinforce the Philippines “in terms as unfair as they 
were wholly understandable.” What was not under- 
standable was the tacit approval of MacArthur, 
demigod in his own image, hero of Bataan in the eyes 
of the world. MacArthur radioed the President that 
“so far as the military angle is concerned, the problem 
presents itself as to whether the plan of President 
Quezon might offer the best possible solution of what 
is about to be a disastrous debacle.” 53 This, just twenty- 
four days after promising his men that thousands of 
reinforcements and hundreds of planes were on the 
way! 

MacArthur saw advantages, regardless of whether 
or not the Japanese accepted the plan; he failed to 
understand the terrible damage that would have been 
done, not alone to his own reputation, but above all 
to American arms and the American purpose, that even 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 71 
the public broaching of such a suggestion would have 
meant. Bataan, in those days and in those times, had 
become the symbol of that purpose; amidst defeat 
we sought heroes and found them in the battered 
“bastards of Bataan.” With one stroke of a pen Mac- 
Arthur would have wrecked all this for ever, and 
would have left a people confused, bewildered, and 
resentful about what undoubtedly would have meant 
a “moral abdication.” Such would have been the 
psychological consequences of any such act; the pro- 
posal in any case was so utterly unrealistic — depending 
as it did upon Japanese stupidity or Japanese benevo- 
lence, neither a noted enemy characteristic — as to be 
absurd. 

Fortunately, wiser heads in Washington rejected 
emphatically this suggestion and directed that “Ameri- 
can forces will continue to keep our flag flying in the 
Philippines so long as there remains any possibility of 
resistance.” 84 

The first Philippine campaign was not, therefore, 
solely an epic of tragic glory; feuds and frictions and 
mistakes left behind an aftermath of bitterness and 
recrimination that persisted throughout the Pacific 
war. 

But the worst defeat American arms ever have suf- 
fered need never have been entered in the history 
books had we reconciled our military and political 
policies prior to the war. Dr. Morton has put it well : 

“The planning for the defence of the Philippine 



72 Great Mistakes of the War 

Islands shows clearly the dilemma in which the United 
States found itself. National policy dictated the de- 
fence of an insular possession, which, in the best 
opinion of American military advisers, could not be 
defended with existing naval and military forces. 
Plans were made for the defence of the Philippines, 
but these plans were based on conditions which few 
of the responsible planners believed could be ful- 
filled” 58 


2. Appeasement in Asia 

Perhaps the saddest chapter in the long history of 
political futility which the war recorded was the 
Yalta conference of February, 1945. As former Secre- 
tary of War Stimson writes, “much of the policy of 
the United States toward Russia, from Teheran to 
Potsdam, was dominated by the eagerness of the 
Americans to secure a firm Russian commitment to 
enter the Pacific war.’ 556 This “eagerness” was first 
manifest at Teheran when Russia’s need for warm- 
water ports was discussed and Roosevelt suggested the 
establishment of Dairen in Manchuria as an inter- 
national free port. 57 It reached its crescendo at Yalta, 
where we attempted to pin down prior elusive Soviet 
promises to take up arms against Japan. The negotia- 
tions about future action against the Japanese were 
interspersed with discussions of the peace settlement 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 73 
and the German question in Europe, and their political 
implications were made secondary to the President’s 
prime objective at Yalta — “the brave new world,” the 
establishment of the basic framework of the United 
Nations. 

For all these reasons — and because of a fundamental 
military as well as political misconception — Russia 
held the whip hand, and U.S. representatives placed 
themselves in the amazing position of “giving away” 
territories which did not belong to us, and of under- 
taking to secure concessions which impaired the 
sovereignty of a friendly allied state. The political 
misconception, so obvious now, should have been 
apparent then ; it was not to our interest, or the 
interests of China or of the world, to make Russia a 
Pacific power; it was not to our interest to beg or 
barter for Russia’s entry into the Pacific war. 

Nor should military considerations have affected 
this political judgment. At the time of Yalta, Japan 
was already beaten — not by the atomic bomb, which 
had not yet been perfected, not by conventional bomb- 
ing, then just starting, but by attrition and blockade. 
The home islands were severed from the empire by 
our conquest of the Philippines and the Marianas, and 
the submarine and surface blockade already had 
brought the pinch of hunger and the stress of severe 
raw material shortages to Japan. Even before the first 
bomb was dropped by our B-2g’s on the Japanese home 
islands, the enemy aircraft industry was disrupted and 



74 Great Mistakes of the War 

on the decline; shortages due to the blockade and a 
chaotic programme of decentralization, dispersion, and 
underground development, badly carried out, already 
had reduced severely the output of Japanese factories. 
The full seriousness of the Japanese plight was not 
then, of course, completely understood. Our military 
men were preoccupied and concerned with the fierce- 
ness of the Japanese defence; the tactical situation 
obscured the hopeless strategic position of Japan, and 
some of our commanders took, therefore, far too 
pessimistic a view. Mistakes in intelligence, or rather 
in evaluation, also contributed to an erroneous assess- 
ment of Japanese intentions and capabilities. We feared 
that even after the main Japanese islands had been 
conquered the enemy resistance would continue on 
the continent of Asia with the much-vaunted Kwan- 
tung Manchurian Army as its core. Yet our intelli- 
gence officers in Washington and throughout the 
Pacific for months had been identifying units of the 
Kwantung Army and of its air support which had 
been transferred from that quiet area to various Rattle 
sectors. 

By late 1944 it was — or should have been — apparent 
that what remained of the Kwantung Army was 
largely composed of green conscripts and second-rate 
troops, with virtually no air "support, incapable of a 
prolonged campaign; it had been bled white to provide 
reinforcements for other fronts. We also confused 
Japanese capabilities with Japanese intentions. We be- 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 75 
lieved the Japanese would resist to the last man, no 
matter how hopelessly beaten. 

These beliefs, which were completely erroneous, 
inflxienced materially the politico-military approach 
made at Yalta. They were not held, at the time, by all 
our experts; but they were, unfortunately, the con- 
trolling opinions. Prior to the conference, an intelli- 
gence estimate of the Japanese strength had been 
furnished to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This estimate, 
which served as the basis of their judgments at Yalta, 
was extremely pessimistic; it estimated that there were 
at least 700,000 men in the Kwantung Army (and a 
total of 2,000,000 on the Asiatic mainland) and that 
they were first-rate troops, well trained and well 
armed. Without Russian assistance, it was estimated, 
the Japanese might be able to prolong the war on the 
Japanese mainland (even after the main islands of 
Japan had been conquered) until the Autumn of 1946 or 
even until 1947 or 194s. 58 Other intelligence estimates, 
notably a far more optimistic one prepared by differ- 
ent authors in the intelligence section of the War 
Department General Staff, and one naval estimate 
challenged this viewpoint. So did two intelligence 
papers which were prepared for the Combined Chiefs 
of Staff (Anglo-American) in September, 1944, and 
January, 1945. These papers stated that Japanese 
shipping and naval and air forces had been broken, 
and their whole tone seemed to indicate (though 
they did not explicitly so state) that Japan was on its 

F 



76 Great Mistakes of the War 

last legs. Best available information indicates the more 
realistic estimates never reached Joint Chiefs of Staff 
level, 59 although Admiral William D. Leahy, the 
Presidential chief of staff, may have seen the naval 
estimate. 

These more realistic intelligence estimates, which 
never reached the top echelon at Yalta, were based 
on numerous factual reports which were available at 
the time, and which have been verified by post-war 
investigations. Thus, Lieutenant General Ija Kawabe, 
commander of the Japanese Air Army in Manchuria 
from May, 1943, to August, 1944, told interrogators 
of the Strategic Bombing Survey that “in July or 
August of 1943 the bulk of [his] planes were moved 
out of Manchuria. . . . 

“For the last six months I was there, anyhow, the 
actual planes which could be considered operational 
were nil — practically none.” 60 

After the Yalta conference had convened, still 
another intelligence estimate, prepared by the Twen- 
tieth Air Force, was sent to Yalta. This estimate took 
the viewpoint that the bombardment and blockade 
of the Japanese main islands had had serious effect 
and that Japanese resistance was rapidly weakening. 
This estimate, too, never reached the highest echelons. 
Thus, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who gave Roosevelt 
the military advice upon which his political decisions 
were (in part) based, framed their own judgments at 
Yalta on the basis of a faulty intelligence estimate. 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 77 

General Marshall was then convinced that an in- 
vasion of the Japanese main islands was essential, and 
he insisted that help from Russia on the mainland of 
Asia was necessary. Admiral King seemed to share this 
view. But there were divergences of opinion as to the 
necessity of this operation; Admiral William D. 
Leahy, who feared the cost in casualties of invasion 
and who correctly assessed the crippling effect of the 
blockade on Japan, opposed the invasion. The com- 
promise eventually reached — a sensible one — was to 
prepare for invasion but in the meantime to utilize the 
blockade and air bombardment to the utmost to bring 
Japan to her knees. 

These strategic differences — and a failure to appre- 
ciate fully the hopeless strategical position of Japan — 
coloured the military thinking at Yalta and helped to 
lead to indefensible political arrangements. “Cer- 
tainly,” as the Washington Post has commented, “the 
Chiefs of Staff made a blunder to advise Roosevelt and 
Churchill at Yalta that Japan would last 18 months 
after V-E Day. Our military men underrated Japan 
at the beginning of the war, then overrated it, and 
refused to see the patent fact, obvious to the Navy, 
that Japan was through even while the brass hats were 
meeting at Yalta.” 61 

Yet at Yalta — and even at the Potsdam conference 
in July, 1945, when Hitler lay dead and dishonoured 
near the ruins of his bunker in Berlin, and the Third 
Reich was broken and shattered — one month before 



78 Great Mistakes of the War 

the surrender of Japan, there were still many Ameri- 
cans who were interested primarily in getting a firm 
commitment from Russia to enter the Pacific war. 

This mistaken policy stemmed in part from the 
basic political misconceptions outlined at the begin- 
ning of this book, in part from strategic misconcep- 
tions, some of them based on inadequate logistical 
planning. As General Deane points out in his book, 
our planners were obsessed with two ideas to bring 
Russia into the Pacific war, and to utilize Russian 
territory as bases for our war effort against Japan. 
Repeatedly, General Deane and other U.S. repre- 
sentatives had pressed Soviet leaders, long before 
Yalta, for permission to utilize Russian territory as 
air bases for our attacks on Japan. 62 Yet the cart was 
put before the horse : We made diplomatic repre- 
sentations for this permission before we had estimated, 
logistically, the value of such bases to us. 

Our attempts to get firm Soviet commitments about 
the war against Japan reached a preliminary crisis in 
October, 1944 (more than four months before Yalta), 
when Churchill and a British entourage visited Mos- 
cow. General Deane describes the resulting confer- 
ences which he attended as the principal American 
military representative. 68 Stalin reiterated his intention, 
first announced to Cordell Hull at Moscow in October , 
1943 , then more or less formalized at Teheran, of 
entering the Pacific war; said he needed three 
months after V-E Day to stockpile supplies in Siberia, 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 79 
declared that the U.S. could have air bases and one 
naval base in the Far East; but added that “if the 
United States and Great Britain preferred to bring 
Japan to her knees without Russian participation, he 
was ready to agree. 55 Furthermore, there was a little 
item of additional supplies that Russia would require 
to help her build up a two months 5 reserve in Siberia. 
All in all, Stalin said, the Russians would need more 
than 1,000,000 tons of cargo, and they must be de- 
livered by June 30, 1945, the deliveries to be in addi- 
tion to those already being made under the Fourth 
Lend-Lease Protocol. In Moscow, in 1944, Stalin made 
many glowing promises, but, “despite these promises, 
the end result was that the Russians got their supplies 
and the United States got nothing except a belated 
and last-minute Russian attack against the Japanese. 5564 

As the Soviets stalled on their promises and we 
delivered supplies, the months drew on into the winter 
of 1944-45; an d at Yalta, in February, President 
Roosevelt, pressed by the U.S. Chiefs of Staff, again 
took up the questions of bomber bases in Siberia and 
the date of Russian entry into the Pacific war. Stalin 
again agreed in principle and set the date at three 
months after victory in Europe had been won. He 
said the U.S. could establish bases in the Komsomolsk- 
Nikolaevsk area and eventually in Kamchatcha. But he 
got down in black and white his price : the Curzon line 
for the eastern border of Poland, the Kurile Islands, 
and controlling economic and strategic concessions in 



80 Great Mistakes of the War 

Manchuria. (Stalins Manchurian “price” for Russia’s 
entry into the Pacific war had first been broached, 
apparently with no grave objections on our part, at 
Teheran in December, 1943, just a few days after 
Roosevelt, Churchill, and Chiang Kai-shek had agreed 
in the Cairo Declaration that Manchuria and Formosa 
should be restored to China.) 

But it was not until the spring, when Germany was 
at her last gasp and Japan near the end, that, in the 
words of General Deane “it was found that the net 
increase that would result from putting four groups 
of B-2g’s in the Amur River district would be i.^g 
per cent . of the total bomb tonnage we could place 
on Japan without using Russian bases ” (italics mine). 
This was convincing proof, adds Deane, “that the 
slight increase in our bombing effort and the advan- 
tage of an added direction of approach for our bomber 
formations were not at all commensurate with the 
logistical effort involved in establishing our forces in 
Siberia.” 66 

A little late — after more than three years of U.S. 
participation in the war and numerous major conces- 
sions to Russia, concessions which were to affect the 
peace — to be making this ABC logistical discovery! 
By then Russia had most of the supplies she had 
demanded; and she had carefully recorded the secret 
concessions of Yalta. 

Russia drove a hard bargain at Yalta. Stalin promised 
to enter the war against Japan within an estimated 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 81 
ninety days after the end of the war against Germany, 
but for it he got the Kurile Islands, 66 all of Sakhalin, 
half-interest in the railways in Manchuria, Port Arthur, 
a Russian-controlled “free port 55 in Dairen, and thus 
strategic hegemony in important north-east Asia. 

“. . . it is my belief, 55 writes Sherwood, “that Roose- 
velt would not have agreed to that final firm commit- 
ment had it not been that the Yalta Conference was 
almost at an end and he was tired and anxious to avoid 
further argument. I believe that he was hopeful that 
when the time came to notify the Chinese, he would 
be able to straighten the whole thing out with Chiang 
Kai-shek — but that hope, of course, was not realized. 5567 

These agreements were made with no representa- 
tive of China, the country most affected by them, 
present; we undertook the amazing task of helping to 
secure Chinese acquiescence in arrangements which 
in effect gave away Chinese territory and advanced 
the border of Communist Russia almost to Peiping. 
Nor did we do this gently. The Chinese ratified the 
Yalta agreements under pressure from the United 
States, or as the recently issued China White Paper 
(“United States Relations with China 55 ) explains it : 
“The American view is that the Yalta agreement shall 
be complied with — no more, no less. 5568 

The fault was doubly grievous. We not only hurt 
our own interests and those of a friendly ally, but at 
Yalta — inferentially, at least — we broke our pledged 
word to that ally. For at Cairo in 1943, before the 



82 Great Mistakes of the War 

Teheran conference and after Stalin had told Hull in 
Moscow that Russia would enter the Pacific war, we 
promised publicly the restoration of Manchuria to 
China. And to a pragmatic politician, Russian control 
of Port Arthur and a half interest in the Manchurian 
railways could only mean Soviet strategic hegemony 
over Manchuria. 

Nor was this all. During the discussions, it was sug- 
gested by President Roosevelt that perhaps the Russians 
ought to have a commercial outlet to the Persian 
Gulf; and maybe the Trans-Iranian railway, built by 
American engineers with the help of American capital, 
ought to be partially owned by Russia, or at least 
Russia should have certain transit rights! Fortunately 
wiser counsel soft-pedalled the proposal, and Stalin, 
apparently suspicious, showed no interest. 

No wonder Stimson wrote that the meeting at 
Yalta dealt “a good deal in altruism and idealism 
instead of stark realities .” 3 * * * * * 09 


3. The Atomic Bomb — 

The Penalty of Expediency 

The utilization of the atomic bomb against a pros- 

trate and defeated Japan in the closing days of the 

war exemplifies — even more graphically than any of 

the mistakes previously recounted — the narrow, astig- 

matic concentration of our planners upon one goal, 
and one alone : victory. 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 83 

Nowhere in all of Mr. Stimson’s forceful and elo- 
quent apologia for the levelling of Hiroshima and 
Nagasaki is there any evidence of an ulterior vision; 
indeed, the entire effort of his famous Harper’s article, 
reprinted and rearranged in his book, On Active 
Service is focused on proving that the bomb hastened 
the end of the war. But at what cost! 

To accept the Stimson thesis that the atomic bomb 
should have been used as it was used, it is necessary 
first to accept the contention that the atomic bomb 
achieved or hastened victory, and second, and more 
important, that it helped to consolidate the peace or 
to further the political aims for which war was fought. 

History can accept neither contention. 

Let us examine the first. The atomic bomb was 
dropped in August. Long before that month started 
our forces were securely based in Okinawa, the Marianas 
and Iwo Jima; Germany had been defeated; our 
fleet had been cruising off the Japanese coast with 
impunity bombarding the shoreline; our submarines 
were operating in the Sea of Japan; even inter-island 
ferries had been attacked and sunk. Bombing, which 
started slowly in June, 1944, from China bases and 
from the Marianas in November, 1944, had been 
increased materially in 1945, and by August, 1945, more 
than 16,000 tons of bombs had ravaged Japanese cities. 
Food was short; mines and submarines and surface 
vessels and planes clamped an iron blockade around 
the main islands; raw materials were scarce. Blockade, 



84 Great Mistakes of the War 

bombing, and unsuccessful attempts at dispersion had 
reduced Japanese production capacity from 20 to 60 
per cent. The enemy, in a military sense, was in a 
hopeless strategic position by the time the Potsdam 
demand for unconditional surrender was made on 
July 26. 

Such, then, was the situation when we wiped out 
Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

Need we have done it? No one can, of course, be 
positive, but the answer is almost certainly negative. 

The invasion of Japan, which Admiral Leahy had 
opposed as too wasteful of American blood, and in 
any case unnecessary, was scheduled (for the southern 
island of Kyushu) for Nov. 1, 1945, to be followed if 
necessary, in the spring of 1946, by a major landing on 
the main island of Honshu. We dropped the two 
atomic bombs in early August, almost two months 
before our first D-Day. The decision to drop them, 
after the Japanese rejection of the Potsdam ultimatum, 
was a pretty hasty one. It followed the recommenda- 
tions of Secretary Stimson and an “Interim Commit- 
tee” of distinguished officials and scientists, who had 
found “no acceptable alternative to direct military 
use.” 70 

But the weakness of this statement is inherent, for 
none was tried and “military use” of the bomb was 
undertaken despite strong opposition to this course 
by numerous scientists and Japanese experts, includ- 
ing former Ambassador Joseph Grew. Not only was 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 85 
the Potsdam ultimatum merely a restatement of the 
politically impossible — unconditional surrender — but 
it could hardly be construed as a direct warning of 
the atomic bomb and was not taken as such by any- 
one who did not know the bomb had been created. 

A technical demonstration of the bomb’s power may 
well have been unfeasible, but certainly a far more 
definite warning could have been given; and it is hard 
to believe that a target objective in Japan with but 
sparse population could not have been found. The 
truth is we did not try; we gave no specific warning. 
There were almost two months before our scheduled 
invasion of Kyushu, in which American ingenuity 
could have found ways to bring home to the Japanese 
the impossibility of their position and the horrors of 
the weapon being held over them; yet we rushed to 
use the bomb as soon as unconditional surrender was 
rejected. Had we devised some demonstration or given 
a more specific warning than the Potsdam ultimatum, 
and had the Japanese still persisted in continued 
resistance after some weeks of our psychological offen- 
sive, we should perhaps have been justified in the 
bomb’s use ; at least, our hands would have been 
more clean. 

But, in fact, our only warning to a Japan already 
militarily defeated, and in a hopeless situation, was the 
Potsdam demand for unconditional surrender issued 
on July 26, when we knew Japanese surrender attempts 
had started. Yet when the Japanese surrender was 



86 Great Mistakes of the War 

negotiated about two weeks later, after the bomb 
was dropped, our unconditional surrender demand was 
made conditional and we agreed, as Stimson had 
originally proposed we should do, to continuation of 
the Emperor upon his imperial throne. 

We were, therefore, twice guilty. We dropped the 
bomb at a time when Japan already was negotiating 
for an end of the war but before those negotiations 
could come to fruition. We demanded unconditional 
surrender, then dropped the bomb and accepted con- 
ditional surrender, a sequence which indicates pretty 
clearly that the Japanese would have surrendered, even 
if the bomb had not been dropped, had the Potsdam 
Declaration included our promise to permit the 
Emperor to remain on his imperial throne. 

What we now know of the condition of Japan, and 
of the days preceding her final surrender on Aug. 15, 
verifies these conclusions. It is clear, in retrospect, 
(and was understood by some, notably Admiral Leahy, 
at the time) that Japan was militarily on her last legs. 
Yet our intelligence estimates greatly overstated her 
strength. 

The background for surrender had been sketched 
in fully, well before the bombs were dropped, and 
the Strategic Bombing Survey declares that “inter- 
rogation of the highest Japanese officials, following 
V-J Day, indicated that Japan would have surrendered 
. . . even ... if the atomic bombs had not been 
dropped.” 71 “Even before the large-scale bombing 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 87 
of Japan was initiated, the raw material base of Japan- 
ese industry was effectively undermined. An acceler- 
ated decline of armament production was inevitable. 5572 

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, in a talk to the National 
Geographic Society on January 25, 1946, declared, 
“I am convinced that the complete impunity with 
which the Pacific Fleet pounded Japan at point- 
blank range was the decisive factor in forcing the 
Japanese to ask the Russians to approach us for peace 
proposals in July. 

“Meanwhile, aircraft from our new fields in the 
Okinawa group were daily shuttling back and forth 
over Kyushu and Shokoku and B-2g’s of the Twen- 
tieth Air Force were fire-bombing major Japanese 
cities. The pace and fury were mounting and the 
government of Japan, as its official spokesmen have 
now admitted, were looking for a way to end the war. 
At this point the Potsdam Ultimatum was delivered 
and the Japanese knew their choice. 

“They were debating that choice when the atomic 
bomb fell on Hiroshima. They were debating that 
choice when our ships shelled installations less than 
100 miles of Tokyo. . . . 

“The atomic bomb merely hastened a process already 
reaching an inevitable conclusion. . . 

There can be no doubt that this conclusion of 
Admiral Nimitz will be the verdict of history. Mili- 
tarily, we “killed 55 Japan in many different ways: by 
crushing defeats at sea and on land; by the strangula- 



88 Great Mistakes of the War 

tion of the blockade of which the principal instru- 
ment was the submarine; by bombing with conven- 
tional bombs. After the seizure of Okinawa — probably 
even before that — the blockade alone could have 
defeated Japan; was, indeed, defeating her. Admiral 
Leahy was right; invasion was not necessary. 

By the time “intensive strategic bombing’ 5 of the 
home islands began in March, 1945, production of 
military supplies in Japan “was already 20 per cent, 
below its peak.” And this drop reached 50 per cent, 
by July, 1945. Lack of steel and other minerals, and 
the inherent industrial weakness of Japan relative to 
her enemies, doomed the Japs. Japan was just too 
weak for the war she waged; her ambitions exceeded 
her capacity. 

“Aircraft production from 1942 on (long before 
either blockade or bombing had become effective) 
never reached a level sufficient to allow the Japanese 
to obtain air superiority in any of the contested 
areas. . . . 

“Production of weapons and ammunition for ground 
troops was not sufficient to keep line troops supplied, 
to fill the long sea lines, and to maintain adequate 
stocks in reserve. . . . 

“Motor vehicles were never in sufficient sup- 
ply. . . 

In the words of a well-known Japanese correspond- 
ent, Masuo Kato, who was in Washington for the 
Domei News Agency when the war started : “The 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 89 
thunderous arrival of the first atomic bomb at Hiro- 
shima was only a coup de grace for an empire already 
struggling in particularly agonizing death throes. The 
world’s newest and most devastating of weapons had 
floated out of the summer sky to destroy a city at a 
stroke, but its arrival had small effect on the outcome 
of the war between Japan and the United Nations.” 74 

It is therefore clear today — and was clear to many 
even as early as the spring of 1945 — that the military 
defeat of Japan was certain; the atomic bomb was not 
needed. 

But if the bomb did not procure victory, did it 
hasten it? 

This question cannot be answered with equal pre- 
cision, particularly since the full story of the Japan- 
ese surrender attempts had not been compiled. But 
a brief chronology of known events indicates that 
the atomic bomb may have shortened the war by a 
few days — not more. 

The day before Christmas, 1944 (two months 
before the Yalta conference), U.S. intelligence authori- 
ties in Washington received a report from a confi- 
dential agent in Japan that a peace party was 
emerging and that the Koiso cabinet would soon be 
succeeded by a cabinet headed by Admiral Baron 
Suzuki who would initiate surrender proceedings. 75 

The Koiso cabinet was succeeded by a new govern- 
ment headed by Suzuki in early April, 1945, but even 
prior to this significant change, the Japanese — in 



90 Great Mistakes of the War 

February, 1945 — had approached the Russians with a 
request that they act as intermediary in arranging a 
peace with the Western powers. The Russian Ambas- 
sador, Malik, in Tokyo, was the channel of the 
approach. The Russians, however, set their price of 
mediation so high that the Japanese temporarily 
dropped the matter. The United States was not offi- 
cially informed of this approach until after the end 
of the war. 

Prior to, coincident with, and after this February 
attempt, ill-defined peace approaches were made 
through the Japanese Ambassadors in Stockholm and 
Moscow, particularly Moscow. These approaches were 
so informal, and to some extent represented to such 
a degree the personal initiative of the two Ambas- 
sadors concerned, that they never came to a head. 

But after a meeting with Stalin in Moscow on May 
27, before the trial A-bomb was even tested in New 
Mexico, Harry Hopkins cabled President Truman that : 

“1. Japan is doomed and the Japanese know it. 

“2. Peace feelers are being put out by certain 
elements in Japan. . . .” 76 

In April, 1945, as the United States was establishing 
a foothold on Okinawa, the Russians in effect de- 
nounced their neutrality agreement with Japan, and 
from then until July 12, the new cabinet was moving 
rapidly toward surrender attempts. 

On July 12, fourteen days before we issued the 
Potsdam Proclamation, these attempts reached a clearly 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 91 
defined point. Prince Konoye was received by the 
Emperor on that day and ordered to Moscow as a 
peace plenipotentiary to “secure peace at any price. 5577 
On July 13, Moscow was notified officially by the 
Japanese foreign office that the “Emperor was desirous 
of peace. 5578 

It was hoped that Moscow would inform the United 
States and Britain at the Potsdam conference of 
Japan’s desire to discuss peace. But instead of an 
answer from the “Big Three, 55 Ambassador Sato in 
Moscow was told by Molotov on August 8 of Russia’s 
entry into the war against Japan, effective imme- 
diately. 

However, since early May — well before this dis- 
appointing denouement to the most definite peace 
attempts the Japanese had yet made— the six-man 
Supreme War Direction Council in Japan had been 
discussing peace. On June 20, the Emperor told the 
(Supreme War Direction) Council that it “was neces- 
sary to have a plan to close the war at once as well 
as a plan to defend the home islands. 5579 

The Council was deadlocked three to three, and 
Premier Suzuki, to break the deadlock, had decided to 
summon a Gozenkaigi (a meeting of “Elder States- 
men , 55 summoned only in hours of crisis) at which the 
Emperor himself could make the decision for peace 
or further war. Suzuki knew his Emperor’s mind; 
Hirohito had been convinced for some weeks that 
peace was the only answer to Japan’s ordeal. 

G 



92 Great Mistakes of the War 

The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima 
on August 6; Russia entered the war on August 8; 
and the second atomic bomb was dropped on Naga- 
saki on August 9. The dropping of the first bomb, 
and the Russian entry into the war, gave Suzuki 
additional arguments for again putting the issue before 
the Supreme War Direction Council, and, on August 9, 
he won their approval for the Gozenkaigi. But 
neither the people of Japan nor their leaders were 
as impressed with the atomic bomb as we were. The 
public did not know until after the war what had 
happened to Hiroshima; and even so, they had en- 
dured fire raids against Tokyo which had caused more 
casualties than the atomic bomb and had devastated 
a greater area than that destroyed at Hiroshima. The 
Supreme War Direction Council was initially told 
that a fragment of the Hiroshima bomb indicated that 
it was made in Germany (!), that it appeared to be a 
conventional explosive of great power, and that there 
was only one bomb available. When the Gozenkaigi 
actually was held on August 14, five days after the 
second bomb was dropped, War Minister Anami and 
the chiefs of the Army and Navy General Staff — three 
members of the War Council who had been adamant 
for continuation of the war — were still in favour of 
continuing it; those who had wanted peace still wanted 
it. In other words, the bomb changed no opinions; the 
Emperor himself, who had already favoured peace, 
broke the deadlock. 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 93 

“If nobody else has any opinion to express,” Hiro- 
hito said, “we would express our own. We demand 
that you will agree to it. We see only one way left 
for Japan to save herself. That is the reason we have 
made this determination to endure the unendurable 
and suffer the insufferable.” 80 

In the words of Harry F. Kern, managing editor of 
Newsweek, who had made a special study, with the 
assistance of Newsweek correspondents, of the events 
surrounding the Japanese surrender : 

“I think it’s fair to say that the principal effect of 
the atom bomb on the Japanese surrender was to pro- 
vide Suzuki with the immediate excuse for setting in 
motion the chain of events which resulted in the sur- 
render.” (An “excuse” was ncessary — as the attempted 
military coup, following the Gozenkaigi of August 14, 
showed — if the leaders of the “peace party” were to 
avoid assassination at the hands of the rabid militar- 
ists of the “war party.”) 

“However, I think it is also a reasonable surmise 
that the Russian declaration of war would have served 
the same purpose, and that the dropping of the bomb 
was therefore unnecessary. In no case was the drop- 
ping of the bomb the reason for the Japanese sur- 
render, and I don’t think we can say that it acted as 
anything more than a catalyst in advancing the plans 
of Suzuki and his supporters.” 81 

Or, as the Strategic Bombing survey puts it, “it is 
the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to December 



94 Great Mistakes of the War 

31, 1945, and in all probability prior to November 1, 
1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic 
bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not 
entered the war, and even if no invasion had been 
planned or contemplated.” 82 

This seems, in the light of history, a reasonable 
judgment, and, in view of our available intelligence 
estimates, one that we could have then made. It is 
quite possible that the atomic bombs shortened the 
war by a day, a week, or a month or two — not more. 

But at what a price ! For whether or not the atomic 
bomb hastened victory, it is quite clear it has not won 
the peace. 

Some may point to the comparative tranquility of 
Japan under MacArthur in the post-war period as due 
in part to the terror of American arms created by the 
bomb. This is scarcely so; Japan’s seeming tranquilty 
is a surface one which has been furthered by a single 
occupation authority and the nature of the Japanese 
people. But I venture to estimate that those who 
suffered at Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never forget 
it, and that we sowed there a whirlwind of hate which 
we shall some day reap. 

In estimating the effect of the use of the bomb upon 
the peace, we must remember, first, that we used the 
bomb for one purpose, and one only; not to secure a 
more equable peace, but to hasten victory. By using 
the bomb we have become identified, rightfully or 
wrongly, as inheritors of the mantle of Genghis Khan 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle for the Pacific 95 
and all those of past history who have justified the use 
of utter ruthlessness in war. 

It may well be argued, of course, that war — least of 
all modern war — knows no humanity, no rules, and 
no limitations, and that death by the atomic bomb is 
no worse than death by fire bombs or high explosives 
or gas or flame throwers. It is, of course, true that the 
atomic bomb is no worse qualitatively than other lethal 
weapons; it is merely quantitatively more powerful; 
other weapons cause death in fearful ways; the 
atomic bomb caused more deaths. We already had 
utilized fire raids, mass bombardment of cities, and 
flame throwers in the name of expediency and victory 
prior to August 6, even though many of our people 
had recoiled from such practices. 

Even as late as June 1, 1945, Stimson “had sternly 
questioned his Air Force leader, wanting to know 
whether the apparently indiscriminate bombings of 
Tokyo were absolutely necessary. Perhaps, as he 
[Stimson] later said, he was misled by the constant 
talk of ‘precision bombing,’ but he had believed that 
even air power could be limited in its use by the old 
concept of ‘legitimate military targets. 5 Now in the 
conflagration bombings by massed B-2g 5 s, he was per- 
mitting a kind of total war he had always hated, and 
in recommending the use of the atomic bomb he was 
implicitly confessing that there could be no significant 
limits to the horror of modern war.” 83 

If we accept this confession — that there can be no 



96 Great Mistakes of the War 

limits set to modem war— we must also accept the 
bitter inheritance of Genghis Khan and the mantles 
of all the other ruthless despoilers of the past. 

In reality, we took up where these great conquerors 
left off long before we dropped the atomic bomb. 
Americans, in their own eyes, are a naively idealistic 
people, with none of the crass ruthlessness so often 
exhibited by other nations. Yet in the eyes of others 
our record is very far from clean, nor can objective 
history palliate it. Rarely have we been found on the 
side of restricting horror; too often we have failed to 
support the feeble hands of those who would limit 
war. We did not ratify the Hague convention of 1899, 
outlawing the use of dumdum (expanding) bullets in 
war. We never ratified the Geneva Protocol of 1925, 
outlawing the use of biological agents and gas in war. 
At the time the war in the Pacific ended, pressure 
for the use of gas against Japanese island positions had 
reached the open discussion stage, and rationalization 
was leading surely to justification, an expedient justi- 
fication since we had air superiority and the means 
to deluge the enemy with gas, while he had no similar 
way to reply. We condemned the Japanese for their 
alleged use of biological agents against the Chinese, 
yet in July and August, 1945, a shipload of U.S. 
biological agents for use in destruction of the Japanese 
rice crop was enroute to the Marianas. And even 
before the war, our fundamental theory of air war, 
like the Trenchard school of Britain, coincided, or 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 97 
stemmed from, the Douchet doctrine of destructive- 
ness : the bombardment of enemy cities and peoples. 

Yet surely these methods — particularly the exten- 
sion of unrestricted warfare to enemy civilians — 
defeated any peace aims we might have had, and had 
little appreciable effect in hastening military victory. 
For in any totalitarian state, the leaders rather than 
the peoples must be convinced of defeat, and the 
indiscriminate use of mass or area weapons, like biologi- 
cal agents and the atomic bomb, strike at the people, 
not the rulers. We cannot succeed, therefore, by such 
methods, in drawing that fine line between ruler and 
ruled that ought to be drawn in every war; we cannot 
hasten military victory by slaughtering the led; such 
methods only serve to bind the led closer to their 
leaders. Moreover, unrestricted warfare can never lay 
the groundwork for a more stable peace. Its heritage 
may be the salt-sown fields of Carthage, or the rubble 
and ruin of a Berlin or Tokyo or Hiroshima; but 
neither economically nor psychologically can unre- 
stricted warfare — atomic warfare or biological war- 
fare — lead anywhere save to eventual disaster. 

During the last conflict we brought new horror to 
the meaning of war; the ruins of Germany and Japan, 
the flame-scarred tissues of the war-wounded attest 
our efficiency. And on August 6, 1945, that blinding 
flash above Hiroshima wrote a climax to an era of 
American expediency. On that date we joined the list 
of those who had introduced new and horrible weapons 



98 Great Mistakes of the War 

for the extermination of man; we joined the Germans 
who first utilized gas, the Japanese with their biological 
agents, the Huns and the Mongols who had made 
destruction a fine art. 

It is my contention that in the eyes of the world 
the atomic bomb has cost us dearly; we have lost 
morally; we no longer are the world’s moral leader 
as in the days of the Wilsonian Fourteen Points. It is 
my contention that the unlimited destruction caused 
by our unlimited methods of waging war has caused 
us heavy economic losses in the forms of American 
tax subsidies to Germany and Japan. It is my conten- 
tion that unrestricted warfare and unlimited aims cost 
us politically the winning of the peace. 

But it is not only — and perhaps not chiefly — in 
public opinion or in the public pocket-book or even in 
public stability that we have suffered, but in our own 
souls. The American public is tending to accept the 
nefarious doctrine that the ends justify the means, the 
doctrine of exigency. What we have done to ourselves 
— and Hiroshima and Nagasaki were heavy blows to 
a weakening moral structure — can best be expressed 
in the words of the following editorial from the Bulletin 
of the Atomic Scientists : 

In the first World War, American public opinion 
was shocked by the sinking of passenger-carrying 
ships by German submarines; in the second World 
War, American submarines sank all Japanese ships 
on sight, and even the revelation that one of these 



Japan and Russia — The Struggle in the Pacific 99 
ships was carrying American prisoners of war, has 
brought no belated wave of indignation at home. 
The Germans began the terror bombing of cities. 
The American propaganda long stuck to the pre- 
tence that we bombed only “military objectives” 
(with “pin-point” accuracy). Probably, this was 
done out of consideration for public opinion; but 
this concern proved to be excessive. Public opinion 
in America as well as elsewhere has long since 
accepted terror bombing of whole cities as legitimate 
means of warfare. So conditioned, it was able to 
“take” the news of the destruction of Hiroshima 
and Nagasaki almost without qualms. Is it not legiti- 
mate to predict that if another war comes, no 
public indignation will meet an announcement of a 
successful use of psitaccosis virus, or of the wiping- 
out of enemy crops by chemicals, or poisoning of 
drinking water in the enemy’s capital by radioactive 
poisons ? 

In mass fire and bomb raids on German and Jap- 
anese cities, America has won the leadership in this 
form of terror warfare; in the atomic bombardment 
of Hiroshima (arranged so as to inflict the maximum 
number of civilian casualties), we have compounded 
the terror of aerial warfare a thousandfold. 84 
The use of the atomic bomb, therefore, cost us 
dearly; we are now branded with the mark of the 
beast. Its use may have hastened victory — though by 
very little — but it has cost us in peace the pre-eminent 



ioo Great Mistakes of the War 

moral position we once occupied. Japan’s economic 
troubles are in some degree the result of unnecessary 
devastation. We have embarked upon Total War with 
a vengeance; we have done our best to make it far 
more total. If we do not soon reverse this trend, if 
we do not cast about for means to limit and control 
war, if we do not abandon the doctrine of expediency, 
of unconditional surrender, of total victory, we shall 
some day ourselves become the victims of our own 
theories and practices. 

Such mistakes as those outlined in these pages — the 
attempt to find total victory, to inflict absolute 
destruction, to use unlimited means, and to mistake 
military victory for political victory — have been here- 
tofore in history the peculiar characteristics of totali- 
tarian or dictator-led states. The long view, the greatest 
good of the greatest number, a desire for world 
tranquilization and peace, have never characterized 
absolute rulers. 

One reflection from a prison cell by the German 
General Kleist ought to be emblazoned above every 
doorway in the Pentagon and in the State Depart- 
ment : 

“The German mistake was to think that a military 
success would solve political problems. Indeed, under 
the Nazis we tended to reverse Clausewitz’s dictum 
and to regard peace as a continuation of war . 5 ’ 85 



NOTES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY 


1. E. H. Wyndam, “The Military Situation in Europe,” 
The Army Quarterly , October, 1948. 

2. William C. Bullitt, “How We Won the War and 
Lost the Peace,” Life, August 30, 1948. 

3. William L. Langer, “Political Problems of a Coali- 
tion,” Foreign Affairs , October, 1947. 

4. Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active 
Service (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1948), p. 414. 

5. Bullitt, op. cit. 

6. Langer, op. cit. 

7. Wallace Carroll, Persuade or Perish (Boston, Hough- 
ton Mifflin Company, 1948), p. 316. 

8. Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins (New 
York, Harper & Brothers, 1948), p. 903. 

9. Carroll, op. cit., p. 324. 

10. Langer, op. cit . 

11. Harry C. Butcher, My Three Years with Eisen- 
hower (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1946), p. 386, 518. 

J2 Elliott Roosevelt, As He Saw It (New York, Duell, 
Sloan & Pierce, 1946), p. 117. 

13. The New York Times , July 22, 1949. 

14. Ibid, November 18, 1949. 

15. B. H. Liddell Hart, London Sunday Pictorial , 
December 7, 1947, p. 11. 

16. Albrecht von Kessel, in the German Foreign Office, 
was “on the fringes” of the anti-Hitler conspiracy in 

IOI 



102 Notes and Bibliography 

Germany. His diary is quoted in Germany's Underground 
by Allen Welsh Dulles (New York : The Macmillan Com- 
pany, 1947). 

17. Dulles, ibid. 

18. The New York Times , July 25, 1949. 

19. Hart, op. cit. 

20. Stimson, op. cit., p. 436. 

21. Ibid., p. 437. 

22. Ibid, p. 447. 

23. Joseph W. Stilwell, The Stilwell Papers (New York, 
William Sloane Associates, 1948), p. 20. 

24. Stimson, op. cit., p. 419. 

25. Ernest J. King, “The Joint Chiefs of Staff Organiza- 
tion, World War II,” Navy Department pamphlet, p. 22. 

26. Martin Sommers, “Why Russia Got the Drop on 
Us,” Saturday Evening Post, February 8, 1947. 

27. Stimson, op. cit., p. 425. 

28. King, op. cit., p. 23. 

29. Roosevelt, op. cit., p. 93. 

30. In the Autumn of 1943, according to post-war testi- 
mony by German military leaders, Nazi troops in France 
and the Lowlands numbered 1,370,000 men. 

31. King, op. cit., p. 35. 

32. Name known to author but withheld. 

33. John R, Deane, The Strange Alliance (New York, 
Viking Press, 1947), p. 43. 

34. Roosevelt, op. cit., p. 215. 

35. Reported to author by a participant whose name 
is known to author but withheld. Eaker, of course, was 
quite right from the air point of view, but a Balkan inva- 
sion offered definite difficulties from the land and naval 
viewpoints. The Adriatic was not a “healthy place” for 
ships. 



Notes and Bibliography 103 

36. Thomas North, “Through the Balkan Underbelly,” 
The Infantry Journal, May, 1948. 

37. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (New 
York, Doubleday and Company, 1948), p. 399. 

38. James F. Byrnes, Speaking Frankly (New York, 
Harper & Brothers, 1947). The background of these deci- 
sions has been amplified by Mr. Byrnes in a speech. 

39. George S. Patton, Jr., War as 1 Knew It (Boston, 
Houghton Mifflin, 1947), p. 327. 

40. Stimson, op. cit., p. 395. 

41. Frederick C. Sherman, Combat Command (New 
York, E. P. Dutton, 1950), pp. 41, 42. 

42. King, op. cit. 

43. Louis Morton, “American and Allied Strategy in 
the Far East,” Military Review, December, 1949, p. 38. 
Abridgment of a chapter from the forthcoming book, 
The Fall of the Philippines. 

44. King, op. cit. 

45. Ibid. 

46. Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, Editors 
for Office of Air Force History, The Army Air Forces in 
World War II — Volume I (University of Chicago Press, 
1948), p. 184. 

47. Morton, op. cit., pp. 38, 39. 

48. Ibid., p. 39. 

49. King, op. cit. 

50. L. H. Brereton, “The Brereton Diaries,” New York, 
1946. 

51. Douglas Mac Arthur, in a statement to the press, 
The New York Times, September 27, 1946. 

52. Craven, op. cit., p. 207. 

53. Stimson, op. cit., pp. 397, 398. 

54. Ibid., p. 400. 

55. Morton, op. cit., p. 27. 



Notes and Bibliography 


104 

56. Stimson, op. cit ., p. 637. 

57. Sherwood, op. cit., p. 792. It was his “understand- 
ing” that Roosevelt had discussed this proposal a few days 
earlier with Chiang Kai-Shek and had secured his agree- 
ment. 

58. Stimson, op. cit., pp. 619ff. 

59. Ellis M. Zacharias, “ The Inside Story of Yalta,” 
United Nations World, January, 1949. Supports indepen- 
dent conclusions to the same end reached by the author. 

60. Ija Kawabe, “Interrogations of Japanese Officials, 
Vol. II,” Naval Analysis Division, U.S. Strategic Bombing 
Survey, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 
p. 425. 

61. Washington Post , September 9, 1948, Editorial. 

62. Deane, op. cit., pp. 223ff. 

63. Ibid., pp. 240ff. 

64. Ibid., p. 249. 

65. Ibid., p. 263. 

66. The Kurile Islands agreement was made privately 
among the “Big Three” without the knowledge — until 
weeks afterwards — of Roosevelt’s principal advisers or of 
the British Cabinet. 

67. Sherwood, op. cit., p. 867. 

68. “United States Relations with China,” Department 
of State, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 
1949. 

69. Stimson, op. cit., p. 610. 

70. Ibid. 

71. “Air Campaigns of the Pacific War,” Strategic 
Bombing Survey, Government Printing Office, Washing- 
ton, D.C., 1947, p. 53. 

72. “The Effects of Strategic Bombing on Japan’s War 
Economy, Appendix A B C,” Strategic Bombing Survey, 
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1946. 



Notes and Bibliography 105 

73. “Japanese War Production Industries,” Strategic 
Bombing Survey, Government Printing Office, Washington. 
D.C., 1946, pp. 1, 61. 

74. Masuo Kato, The Lost War (New York, Alfred A. 
Knopf, 1946). 

75. Ellis M. Zacharias, “The A Bomb Was Not 
Needed,” United Nations World, August, 1949. 

76. Sherwood, op. cit., p. 903. 

77. “ The Summary Report on the Pacific War,” Stra- 
tegic Bombing Survey, Government Printing Office, Wash- 
ington, D.C., 1946, p. 26. See also “Japan’s Struggle to 
End the War,” same source. 

78. Kato, op. cit. 

79. Ibid., p. 26, n. 

80. Ibid. 

81. From a letter to the author, January 5, 1949. 

82. Strategic Bombing Survey. “The Summary Report 
on the Pacific War” op. cit., p. 26. 

83. Stimson, op. cit., pp. 632-33. 

84. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , September, 1948. 
p. 259. 

85. B. H. Liddell Hart, The German Generals Talk , 
(New York, William Morrow, 1948), p. 194. 

In addition to the publications and sources cited in the 
notes, other works I have consulted include : Roosevelt 
and the Russians — The Yalta Conference , by Edward R. 
Stettinius, Jr. (Doubleday, 1949); numerous official mili- 
tary histories and monographs; the war report of General 
Eisenhower and of General Marshall, General Arnold and 
Admiral King; and The Nightmare of American Foreign 
Policy 3 by Edgar Ansell Mowrer (Knopf, 1948).